Planterra Foods, a US meat-alternative subsidiary of Brazilian protein major JBS, has expanded a partnership with plant-based ingredients company MycoTechnology.

MycoTechnology has been supplying its pea and rice protein to Planterra for the past year for the production of the latter’s Ozo brand, a range of meat-free products launched in 2020 and sold into the retail and foodservice channels.

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The two companies, both located in Colorado, have now formed what they call a ‘master collaboration agreement’ with a view to partnering more closely in research and development, a tie-up that could lead to “shared ownership of intellectual property”, according to a statement.

Founded in 2013, MycoTechnology supplies protein ingredients to food and beverage manufacturers using the fermented roots of Shiitake mushrooms, or mycelia.

A spokesperson for Planterra clarified the companies will work together to develop technologies and ingredients to improve the quality and taste profile of plant-based foods. The spokesperson, however, declined to provide the expected timing of any new product development from the collaboration.

Planterra CEO Darcey Macken said in the statement: “Our goal in entering this agreement with MycoTechnology is to foster collaboration between an ingredients manufacturer and consumer packaged goods company to create more quality and best-tasting ingredients, and to accelerate and unlock ingredients specifically designed for final applications and focused on taste improvement.”

The statement added: “Technologies developed through this collaboration programme are initially intended to be utilised for Planterra Foods, but may also be commercialised to other companies to accelerate the adoption of higher quality plant-based meats in general.”

JBS formed Planterra last year before making a move in 2021 for another plant-based business, Vivera in the Netherlands. The Brazilian company has also taken its flagship meat brand Seara into the alternative-protein category.

Planterra sells its Ozo plant-based burgers and grounds into the retail and foodservice channels in the US, with the out-of-home sector also featuring the company’s meatballs, breakfast sausage patties and nuggets.

It has also expanded into new markets with an agreement inked in June to supply the Ozo brand range to 200 stores owned by Canadian grocer Unfi. Over the past year, the brand has also been launched in the out-of-home channel in the Baja and Yucatan peninsulas of Mexico, with a retail offering planned for July in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island of St Maarten and “other Caribbean islands”.

Alan Hahn, the CEO of MycoTechnology, said: “Our work with Planterra Foods is just beginning, and we’re excited to expand the quality of ingredients offered for the plant-based industry at large, beginning with this partnership. We’ve seen great success through our fermented Shiitake blend, providing superior taste in Planterra’s Ozo products, and we believe the plant-based industry needs to continue to push the adoption of plant-based alternatives, with taste and quality being a main factor in driving this adoption.”

Over the last four years, MycoTechnology has received investment from backers that include Kellogg and Tyson Foods.