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Author Katarina Todorovic
Katarina Todorovic
Updated on May 24th, 2023
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

MyCovattion 2023: Let’s fast-forward the future of the Food & Beverage Industry with the magic of Mycelium!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce you to a true visionary in the world of sustainable food production. Delivery Rank’s guest today is the founder of Mycovation, a company that is revolutionizing the way we think about food by harnessing the power of mycelium. With a background in biology and a passion for sustainable living, our guest has dedicated their career to exploring the possibilities of mycelium - the root-like network of filaments that make up the vegetative part of fungi. By leveraging the versatility, nutritive value, and unique texture of mycelium, Mycovation is creating a new paradigm in food systems that promises to be both delicious and sustainable.

What inspired you to co-found Mycovation, and what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

The idea for Mycovation, came up when the team of Co-founders who were working in different streams like circular economy concepts, protein technology and fermentation technology started discussing waste valorisation and value addition for the side streams from food production. These large quantity materials, still nutritionally adequate, were generally used as low-priced animal feeds or compost materials, and even disposed of in landfills.

The idea initially culminated with us working on mushroom cultivation, but gradually evolved into fermentation of the Mycelium which is the root of mushrooms on different edible substrates varying from grains to side streams. Since, the idea was very new in context with applications in the Asian market. Our greatest challenge has been to create awareness about importance of mycelium and the versatility of our ingredients that can be used for various applications ranging from Plant-based meat to Healthy Granola Bars, Noodles to Functional Beverages.

We also see the endless possibilities from the various combinations that can be developed into a novel ingredient, and a challenge to scale in production.

Can you explain what mycoprotein is and how it compares to traditional protein sources?

The proteins that originate from the cells of any fungal organism are called Mycoprotein. It is a very general term which includes several different species in the fungal kingdom. This includes single cellular microscopic fungal cells to a large mushroom fruiting body. The Mycoprotein is relatively new in terms as a source of protein. Thou, people have been consuming mushrooms for centuries.

It was mostly believed that animal meat and consuming animal derived products were the only rich source of protein until recent years. Red meat being the most popular. However, in recent years some sources of proteins from plant origin have been accentuated as good sources of proteins such as lentils and certain green vegetables.

But the protein quantity varies to a large degree which needs a chemical extraction process. These processes put plant protein extracts, concentrates, and isolates into the “Ultra Processed Ingredients” category. Research studies have shown that the fungal cells can produce some unique enzymes and metabolites (all broadly falling into proteins) that are not produced in animal or plant cells. These facts make the mycoprotein an interesting source of food ingredients.

We would also like to highlight that our product “MyX” is not a pure mycoprotein, we term it as mycelium fermented plant-proteins and our upcoming product line “MyMic” is a pure mycoprotein.

How does Mycovation ensure the quality and safety of its mycoprotein products?

At Mycovation, we carefully select our fungal strains which are mostly edible gourmet mushrooms, with a history of safe use and generally considered safe. Our production facility and process ensure high quality of food safety processes as most of our substrates are disinfected or sterilized before fermentation.

We are in the process of building our production facility in India and ensuring we comply with all regulatory requirements for production of our MyX fermented plant-protein ingredients.

How do you see the future of the food industry evolving with the increasing popularity of plant-based and alternative protein sources?

The Alternative protein sector has seen immense growth during and post pandemic. With the growing awareness among the consumers, demand for better, safer, and environmentally sustainable sources of nutrition has increased. Demand for ethical consumption is at the all-time high.

In the future, these demands will get stronger. Consumers are looking for wholesome nutrition. Hence, it's not just protein. All the other nutritional sources will also be evolving to cater to the rising demand.

Our strong belief is that micro-organism derived food would become a major food source in the future, equivalent to plant and animal derived food.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make a positive impact in the food industry?

Food industry is ever changing and advancing. Our advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to identify strong demand or trending sector, research product market fit. Be humble and build strong network connections in the industry. Find a right mentor, there is immense support offered for startups, identify right opportunities.

If you would like to find out more about MyCovation, visit https://www.mycovation.asia/

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