We’ve come an awfully long way from the basic bean burger beginnings of the plant-based protein movement and, with the world starting to accept and integrate meat alternatives into mainstream diets, relentless NPD, chef experimentation and tech-heavy, protein-orientated food science have all become part of normal industry practice.
Among the many challenges with meat alternatives, flavour and texture stand out as two of the most important facets when creating a product, with leading flavour and fragrance company, Givaudan, focusing their Chef’s Council 2019 report on plant protein insights.
The annual report brings together leading global chefs for a summit on trending culinary issues, with the crucial roles of both flavours and textures in alternative protein topping the bill this year.
The report says that 53% of consumers are only moderately satisfied with the current meat substitutes market (Plant Attitude), with Flavio Garofalo, Global Category Director of Savoury Flavours and Natural Ingredients at Givaudan, saying that flavour and texture assembly is key to changing traditional side dish/main plate perceptions.
“One of the key insights coming out of the event was the critical interaction and relationship between flavour, taste and texture that is a key differentiator when considering side dishes and centre of plate,” said Garofalo.
“Deconstructing different flavours and textures and reassembling them to achieve those that consumers expect and prefer is a key aspect in the evolution of plant-based meat substitutes as the main focus of a meal.”
Along with the report, Givaudan simultaneously announced a new technology for plant-based burgers centred around fat encapsulation, with this innovation said to reduce up to 75% of the fat content and 30% of the calories when compared to current market products.
Little is known at this stage about the “breakthrough” tech, with Givaudan teasing that the fat encapsulation will also improve nutritional value and provide increased authenticity through flavour stabilisation.
The company also claim to have discovered lamb and smoky flavours for meat substitutes which it plans to make available to producers.
The report says that “mouthfeel and fatty notes are critical in delivering satisfaction”, with a recent pea-based innovation in texture said to have unlocked the rib for the alternatives market.
Earlier this week, Ojah, a Dutch plant-based ingredients producer, unveiled what they claim is the world’s first vegan ribs, with the company having developed their own plant-based texture, called Heppi, which is said to provide an accurate imitation of rib meat.
Heppi is a yellow pea-based protein texture created through a cooking process called high moisture extrusion (HME). This is a high pressure and temperature process where water is mixed with plant-based protein flour, with combinations of friction and shearing producing a meat-free product which provides the “bite, mouthfeel and juiciness” of meat.
The pea-based ribs come as a ‘rack’ of 10, are boneless and will be launched next month at the Food Ingredients Europe trade show in Paris, with Ojah intending to make Heppi available to global food manufacturers in the second half of 2020.
Heppi is the second HME protein texture from Ojah, who were purchased last year by Kerry Foods, with the Dutch company producing a plant-based chicken alternative, Plenti.