The plant-based material was presented at the IAA Mobility Expo in Munich alongside the BMW Startup Garage program. Desserto stated that “it is an honour to be part of this important event in partnership with BMW.

“We are convinced that our cactus-based vegan biomaterials will significantly contribute to sustainability in the automotive industry by offering an alternative to replace traditional leather with sustainable, animal cruelty-free vegan alternatives.”

The original Desserto material was part of a study earlier this year from research institute FILK, which compared alternative materials to leather across a series of testing parameters. Notably, the study found no materials that could match up to leather across the board.

FILK described the material as a “coated textile with compact layer (PUR) and partially foamed layer (PUR) filled with heterogeneous particles of organic origin, textile carrier based on polyester, material made by reverse coating process”.

Although Desserto can reportedly achieve a softness similar to leather, its technical performance falls far behind, with just tensile strength and tear resistance meeting half the results of leather, while water vapour permeability, water vapour absorption and flex resistance fall far behind. The material is also roughly half the thickness of natural leather.

For more details on the FILK study and how alternative materials compare to Desserto, read the breakdown of the findings in ILM May/June 2021 print/digital issue, available via the ILM app to all subscribers. Alternatively, watch the ILM webinar first broadcast in July; How can the leather industry use science and data to improve its image?.