‘World’s first’ meat-free octopus tentacles mimic ‘intense colour and distinct suckers’

The reason you likely haven’t come across meat-free octopus tentacles is because Revo Foods claims to be the first to market. The Austrian start-up has coined the invention The Kraken – Inspired by Octopus.

How is a meat-free octopus tentacle made?

Although marketed as a plant-based product, the primary ingredient in Revo’s meat-free octopus actually comes from the fungi kingdom. Mycoprotein is best known for adding a ‘meaty’ texture to meat alternatives, and Revo is already using it in its 3D printed vegan salmon filet product​.

Aside from being environmentally sustainable and nutrient-rich – mycoprotein is a source of protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins – the ingredient also requires ‘significantly less’ processing compared to commonly used raw materials in plant-based alternatives, which Revo says preserves more micronutrients.

Why ‘The Kraken’?

In German, octopus can be translated as ‘der krake’. But actually, the name The Kraken comes from a catchphrase from the 1981 movie ‘The Clash of the Titans’.

“Is it basically a play on pop culture icons,” explained Revo Foods CEO Robin Simsa. “In a famous 80s movie, there is an iconic line: ‘Release the Kraken’, which became a popular and fun thing to say.”

The result is a product with high amounts of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre. The Kraken achieves a Nutri-Score ‘A’.

As to the manufacturing process itself, CEO Robin Simsa revealed the company is currently experimenting with a new 3D structuring technology for its meat-free octopus product. But being a ‘complex’ new production method does come with limitations.

“Therefore, we are launching The Kraken now as a limited edition to observe feedback from the market and our distribution partners and might release it on a wider scale at the end of the year.”

Mimicking colour and texture of the real thing

Image credit: Revo Foods

One of the most distinct characteristics of Revo’s new product is its colour, which aims to mimic the vibrancy of the real thing. “Octopus tentacles, with their intense colour and distinct suckers are a very special product with an exciting look,” said Revo’s head of foodtech Nicoollo Galizzi.

To achieve the right pigments, the start-up experimented with a number of different natural colourings, revealed CEO Rimsa, adding that achieving the ‘typical octopus colour’ is no mean feat. “I believe we achieved quite authentic results with natural colours derived from carrot, blueberry, paprika and sweet potato in a combination.”

Texture was another key focus area for Revo, who is working with mycoprotein also for its ‘fibrousness’, which requires less processing to create textures and mouthfeel.

Octopus is often described as having a firm but tender texture. Rimsa describes the texture of The Kraken as ‘a bit less chewy’ compared to conventional octopus, and explained the texture changes depending on the use case. “The good and unique thing about The Kraken is that it can be prepared both for cold and hot meals,” he told FoodNavigator.

Indeed, the product can be grilled fried or baked, or served as is. “I think in an octopus salad it is a very nice addition.”

A good time to be an octopus?

Of all the times to be an octopus, now might be one of the better periods. Interest and empathy for these sea creatures are on the rise, believes Revo Foods, following the Netflix hit documentary ‘My Octopus Teacher’. “Today, many octopus fans avoid consuming these fascinating animals.”

But octopus consumption continues to remain high. It is estimated up to 200,000 tons of octopus are eaten each year in the EU alone. Wild octopus numbers are dwindling.

At the same time, octopus farms are causing controversy, with animal welfare groups pushing back against their development​. In the US, bills have been introduced to outlaw octopus bans in the states of Washington, California and Hawaii.

Marketing ‘inspired by octopus’: should Revo expect pushback?

The launch comes in the wake of plant-based labelling controversy for Revo. In Austria, the Vienna City Council had taken legal action against the start-up over its ‘Revo Salmon’ product.

“Our packaging declares that 100% plant-based ingredients are used and clearly labels the product as vegan without animal-based ingredients. In our view, any accusation of deception is unjustified,” said Simsa at the time.

“Many consumers are specifically looking for these types of products, and it is important to give guidance of the product taste with descriptive names.”

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The Kraken – Inspired by Octopus is destined for the foodservice market. Image credit: Revo Foods

Last month, the Vienna Court dismissed the lawsuit. As to whether Rimsa is concerned The Kraken – Inspired by Octopus could receive similar pushback, he told us ‘the last word has not been spoken’.

“We see continuous attacks on a political level from many different players in the EU. However, we are a strong proponent of freedom of choice when it comes to product assortments. Same as we do not want to forbid other players to offer their products.

“As long as they fulfil all the required food standards, we do not see how it is fair to forbid us or other plant-based food products as fair competition.”