COLUMBIA, MO. — A new Savage River Inc. production plant near Columbia, Mo., is testing whether it can eventually market a chicken analog product for its Beyond Meat brand using technology licensed from the Univ. of Missouri, reports

This chicken analog consists of soy protein, pea protein and carrot fiber mixed with water and heated. This process is designed to create a plant-based product that tastes and chews like chicken but shreds like meat.

The Columbia plant was created operating thanks to a combined effort from entrepreneur Ethan Brown and two Univ. of Missouri food scientists who have worked for approximately two decades to get the “texturized vegetable protein” just right.

Brown, who founded Beyond Meat, chose Columbia for the operation, which has 15 employees. The facility features one line with room to expand if necessary. Brown added he wants to offer a meat alternative better than those currently on the market in order to provide the “whole sensory experience” of meat eating. Although he’s a vegan, Brown claims he understands the satisfaction of eating meat.

The fibrous structure of what the researchers had developed “clearly mimics the fibrous structure of animal muscle or meat in a way I haven’t seen,” Brown said, He added the goal is to serve a growing market of consumers who want one or two meals a week with a plant-based protein as the main course – not to replace chicken. Plans to produce beef and pork analogs plus broaden its range of protein types used in the products are on the books.

Brown stressed he intends to make the newly developed product competitive with regular chicken, which takes six weeks to raise -- it takes about two minutes to run the new analog process.

The company plans to have its chicken analog strips in stores the first quarter of this year. At present, it is selling its strips to Whole Foods, which is including the product in prepared dishes.