Barcelona's Libre launches to pack the sweet smell of bacon into mushroom meat alternatives

Libre's mycelium bacon alternative is supposedly 70% less fatty, 52% less calorific than actual pork.
Barcelona's Libre launches to pack the sweet smell of bacon into mushroom meat alternatives

Libre founder Alan Ramos became intrigued by sustainable meat alternatives during a spell travelling the Far East.

Taking a graduation sabbatical in China and Taiwan, where he no doubt chewed over differences in cuisine, Ramos began his own vegan journey after becoming engaged with the need to tackle climate change and the role of industrial-scale meat production.

Five years later, Ramos, a US native born to Mexican parents, was at work in Barcelona hatching his startup concept.

With his startup Libre Foods, Ramos has opted for mushroom textures and tastes, drawing on mycelium compounds found at the vegetable's root, to serve up vegan alternatives to bacon, steak and chicken. 

The first of the products, Libre Bacon, is advertised as containing 70% less fat, and 52% less calories than actual pork products. Libre's steak and chicken alternatives are still in development. But bacon is the priority; Libre believes 32.5 kg of pork is consumed by the average European consumer each year.

Mushrooms are said to offer advantages in meat-free production because they grow 365 days a year in European climates, in all weather conditions.

And Libre is banking on its formula as a winner for Western taste palettes; early trials at vegan foodie events in LA and Berlin were apparently "very well received". It's claiming to be first in the category as well ⁠— until now there hasn't been a mushroom-derived bacon product, at least within EU borders.

Undoubtedly it's been a challenging time for meatless protein vendors and food tech more generally.  Yet there's never been so many choices to cook for vegetarians and vegans, which points to a market now on the verge of maturity.

Having now emerged from stealth, Libre says it will initially address restaurant proprietors with quality mycelium-derived produce, before diversifying to meet envisaged demand from grocery supermarkets.

Meatless fine cuisine is chic given the environmental agenda, and Libre's corporate ethos promises to promote "inclusive veganism", no doubt offering some appeal to meat-eaters willing to experiment as the climate change deadline draws near.

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