Naturex strikes global distribution deal with Mycotech for vegan mushroom protein: 'We could see they had something new'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Naturex to distribute MycoTech's vegan mushroom protein

Related tags Protein Amino acid

Natural ingredients giant Naturex has struck a global distribution deal with MycoTechnology, the fungi-fueled start-up behind Pure Taste fermented shiitake vegetable protein: a high-profile new entrant to the ‘alternative’ protein market. 

Under the deal – struck via Naturex’s Open Innovation program (Ingenium) – Naturex will market Pure Taste​ to the food and dietary supplements market, Timothee Olagne, VP Marketing, Nutrition & Health, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“We started talking ​[to MycoTechnology] about nine months ago, and we could see they had something really new in the market in terms of protein quality and functionality. There’s also a possibility to introduce new proteins in future using the platform so it’s very exciting.

“This is a very concentrated form of protein – 77-80% ​[by dry weight] - which is important when you’re dealing with the nutrition industry, but what’s particularly exciting is that the DIAAS score is 1 – which is comparable with animal protein, so it’s got all the essential amino acids – but the taste profile is neutral to slightly nutty. It also has much better solubility in some applications than other plant-based proteins, so it’s much nicer to work with in thing like smoothies, it’s just easier to use.

“We’re investing a lot of money in our applications lab in Chicago to look at how this can work in multiple formulations,” ​added Olagne, who said interest in non-animal forms of protein was growing all over the world, with launches of products containing plant-based proteins growing by high double digits in recent years.  

Asked about price, Olagne said, “We’re on par or more affordable than some of the specialty proteins like hemp and pumpkin protein or even 60% chlorella protein.”

How do you talk about proteins produced via fermentation?

Pure Taste is produced via fermentation, but instead of using genetically engineered micro-organisms that converts sugars into proteins, it uses naturally occurring mycelium (mushrooms' filament-like roots) from an heirloom variety of Shiitake mushroom that transform pea and rice protein (the feedstock) into a superior-tasting complete vegan protein that can be labeled as ‘fermented shiitake vegetable protein.’

But how do you talk to consumers about a protein that has been in this manner?  And will explaining it reassure or confuse consumers who probably think that ‘shiitake mushroom plant protein’ – as Naturex describes it – is made from the bit of the mushroom we all recognize – the dome-like cup and the stem?

 “I think consumers get fermentation,” ​said Olagne. “Fermented foods are quite trendy at the moment,” ​he added. “We’ve had interest from everyone from start-ups to very large companies, the leaders in the protein market, especially on the nutrition side and we’ve been very transparent and clear about the production process. Mushroom mycelium are part of the mushroom.”

mushroom diagram-Shane Mulholland-forestorganics68
Picture: Shane Mulholland-forestorganics68

Pure Taste Protein​ is derived from the fermentation of plant based protein feedstock with the mycelium of Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes​) in an aqueous environment. The resulting protein has all nine essential and 11 non-essential amino acids.

‘Think about soy sauce for a second…’

MycoTechnology marketing manager Josh Hahn said it was easiest to think about the process of making fermented vegetable protein as something comparable to making soy sauce, which many consumers probably don’t realize is made via a fermentation process.

He added: “Think about soy sauce for a second. Soy sauce is made from a fermented paste of soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds. but it’s not labeled as roasted grain, brine and aspergillus…”

Read more HERE​ about Pure Taste and Boulder, CO-based MycoTechnology – which has just raised $35m in a series B funding round.

A leading player in the botanical ingredients industry specializing in natural colors, flavors, plant extracts, and preservatives, Naturex​ generated revenues of €404m in 2016 ($483m). It is based in Avignon, France, but has production facilities and sales offices all over the world. In 2016, North America accounted for 42.8% of its revenues.

  • Visit Naturex (booth #MM143) and MycoTechnology (booth #I159) at Supply Side West in Las Vegas to find out more.


Launched in March 2016, Naturex's Ingenium open innovation program aims to accelerate the introduction of new products through external collaborations. To date, Naturex has teamed up with a variety of companies through this platform, from chocolate giant Barry Callebaut (to work on Cocoactiv’, a high-flavanol cocoa extract), to Adamed (to work on an aronia extract targeting cardio health), Mazza Innovation, FP Innovation, EPC Natural Products, In-Vitro Plant-tech, Green2Chem, and Dialpha SAS.

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