Could Mushroom-Derived Material Replace Styrofoam?

Mushroom-based replacement for styrofoam?

An innovative biotech firm in Green Island, NY has developed a material from mushrooms that they hope will eventually replace styrofoam packaging.

Ecovative grows the biodegradable packaging material from mycelium, the living root structures of mushrooms.

But that isn’t all! The company is also using different versions of the same process to produce mushroom-based alternatives to leather and bacon. Yes, bacon!

In 2018 Ecovative launched Mylo, its mushroom-based alternative to leather that has been picked up by fashion designer Stella McCartney. And just last year, the company also introduced an entire line of alternative meat products, called MyEats.

A foam-like mass of mycelium can be sliced, season, and fried up just like bacon. One slice of MyBacon has a high fiber content with as much protein as a slice of real bacon – but only one-fifth of the fat. The owners also claim that the production process for their mushroom-based mean substitutes uses far fewer natural resources (water, in particular) than a pound-for-pound comparison with traditional agricultural processes.

As the company scales up, it predicts that it will eventually be able to sell MyBacon for $1 per pound, one-fifth the market price of pork bacon.

The current market for meat substitutes is valued at around $4 billion, and is expected to double within the next 5 years. Ecovative recently announced that it has raised $100 million in capital.