Motif FoodWorks, the Boston-based food technology company on a mission to make plant-based food taste better and more nutritious, announced that its debut food technology, HEMAMI™, is now commercially available for large-scale distribution to customers. The FDA has also recognized the meat alternative food-technology as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

At the same time, the company disclosed plans for a new market development center that will house R&D labs and pilot plants for fermentation, ingredient and finished-product production.

HEMAMI™ is a yeast-derived heme protein that provides umami flavor and meaty aroma to burgers, sausages, chicken, and other plant-based meat alternatives. HEMAMI™ is no different than the heme protein found in beef; it’s simply produced in a novel way, called precision fermentation, without the animal. It’s a revolution in food production with benefits for people, animals, and the planet.

While meat alternative sales have grown 23% over the past two years, the category continues to be held back due to consumer concerns over taste. In fact, two out of three Americans (67%) would eat more plant-based options over meat if those products tasted better.

Motif also announced that it received a letter stating that the FDA had “no further questions” in response to the company’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) submission for HEMAMI™.

The GRAS notification covers HEMAMI™ use to impart flavor and aroma in meat alternative substitutes. The company has also submitted a Color Additive Petition to the FDA regarding HEMAMI™’s use as a color additive. That submission is under review by the regulatory agency.

The commercial launch of HEMAMI™ closes out a year of massive growth for Motif, most notably with the company’s historic $226 million in Series B funding. Due to increased demand from consumer packaged goods and food service customers, the company will open a new R&D center along with a pilot-scale production facility for HEMAMI™; its texture technology, APPETEX™; and for other new food-technologies and finished plant-based products.

The new 65,000sq-ft facility will feature three pilot plants for fermentation, ingredient, and finished-product production. The food technologies and finished products created at the site will be used for consumer testing and customer sampling, as well as validating process techniques before sending on to large-scale production partners. Located in Northborough, Mass., the site will house up to 100 employees and will also feature state-of-the-art food-technology, analytical, and bioprocessing labs. Construction on the new facility will begin this month and is expected to be fully online in the latter half of 2022.