A new partnership has the potential to transform the growing mushroom farming sector with the introduction of new, high-value mycelium crops.

Ecovative, a pioneering company in mycelium-based materials, and Limbraco International BV, a leading manufacturer of mushroom agricultural machinery, have announced a strategic alliance aimed at revolutionizing mushroom farming through the development of specialized equipment. 

Specifically, this collaboration will manufacture state-of-the-art filling and harvesting machinery for Ecovative’s flagship AirMycelium crops, which can be seamlessly integrated into existing mushroom farms. The custom-designed equipment ensures high yields and quality material when coupled with Ecovative’s patented industrial-scale vertical farming process.

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Mycelium—the fast-growing root structure of mushrooms—is a growing agricultural sector due to its environmentally friendly potential to replace animal products such as meat and leather. For its part, animal agriculture is one of the single largest contributors to global warming, consuming immense amounts of water and using more arable land than any other industry on the planet. 

Since its launch in 2007, Ecovative has partnered with a range of industry-leading companies to make mycelium materials and products commercially competitive and accessible to everyone.

With this new partnership with Limbraco, Ecovative is focusing on bringing innovative farming technology to farmers to be able to scale more mycelium products. “We are excited about this partnership with Ecovative,” Frank Cornelissen of Limbraco International BV said in a statement. “It represents a fusion of cutting-edge technology and new markets, aimed at empowering mushroom farmers with the tools they need for success in an emerging and competitive industry.”

Scaling mushroom crops

Limbraco’s sophisticated machinery has already undergone a successful pilot at Whitecrest Mushrooms, a prominent commercial farm in Ontario, Canada. The farm is set to allocate half of its mushroom production capacity to the new AirMycelium technology this year, showcasing the viability and potential scalability of this innovative approach. This announcement follows a year of close collaboration between Ecovative and Limbraco. 

Going forward, access to mycelium production machinery will be exclusively available to Ecovative’s mushroom farm network. 

“Limbraco’s sophisticated and reliable equipment is essential for meeting the unique requirements of Ecovative’s mycelium crop, AirMycelium,” Gavin McIntyre, Ecovative CEO, said in a statement. 

“This strategic alliance is a significant step towards scaling up the production of new high-value mycelium crops for mushroom farmers, which hold immense potential for food and fashion,” McIntyre added.

Sustainable vegan bacon

Ecovative was created in 2007 by entrepreneur Eben Bayer, who grew up on a small family farm in Vermont where he helped raise and kill chickens and pigs. His passion for solving the world’s biggest problems turned him toward disrupting animal agriculture.

Some estimates are that half the meat sold by 2040 will come from non-animal sources. To meet that market, Ecovative pioneered research into growing whole cuts of meatless meat made with its AirMycelium platform. In 2020, in partnership with experts in the food industry, the company spun off a new, independent company called MyForest Foods (formerly Atlast). 

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MyForest Foods grows and harvests nutritious mycelium ready for preparation and eating in just over a week, which is significant compared to the six months it takes to raise a pig and about three years for a single cow. 

The company’s first retail product, MyBacon, quickly sold out of every production run, and in a matter of a year went from being sold in one store to many. With cleaner ingredient labels and full flavor and nutritional profiles, minus the environmental or ethical implications, MyForest Foods’ main goal is to have a positive impact on the food industry. While MyForest Foods can produce many mycelium meats, Bayer decided that its flagship product would be vegan bacon because he characterizes it as a leverage point of sorts.

“Bacon, interestingly, appears to be what I call a ‘trim tab’ which is the rudder on a boat that turns the boat,” Bayer previously told VegNews. “The idea is that it’s the point of maximum leverage.”

“[Bacon] was a trim tab because out of all the whole-cut meats that we made in our first iteration, bacon blew it out of the water in our taste test against existing bacon, plant-based bacon, and just generally, people loved it.”

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