Plant-based alternatives to meat and sausage remain in high demand by consumers, and this interest and the trend to this product category have scarcely been affected by the current corona crisis.
On the contrary, awareness of the importance of sustainable and balanced nutrition is rising, worldwide.
Industry experts expect to see continuous growth in plant-based alternative products in the coming years.
“Whether for ethical or environmental reasons, reduced meat consumption is the future of the food industry. This is even more important in view of the need to supply a growing world population with sustainably sourced, protein-rich meat alternatives,” explains Dr Matthias Moser, Managing Director, Hydrosol.
This specialist for stabilising and texturing systems is now working in close collaboration with raw materials supplier All Organic Treasures (AOT). The goal of the co-operation is to combine the expertise of both companies and offer customers in the plant-based meat alternative space a wider range of products with individualised and exclusive solutions.
The focus is on allergen- and GMO-free protein sources with a positive image, such as sunflower.
According to Fabian Breisinger, Managing Director, AOT: “Our own Sunflower Family brand is already successful in food retail with the SonnenblumenHACK product. We have built a special reputation and capabilities in the area of sunflower protein-based vegan products, like burger ready mixes."
"Our plant-based proteins, especially Heliaflor, are derived through the partial deoiling of high-quality raw materials. During production we take special care to protect their beneficial properties. As a result, our products retain their native protein structure and content of important nutrients like B vitamins, secondary plant substances and minerals."
"This distinguishes them from conventional protein products. The functional properties, especially those of our sunflower protein, are further significantly affected only by the production process.”
The proteins are a by-product of sunflower oil manufacture, so there are clear advantages in terms of sustainability. Hydrosol uses three different texturates for the production of meat and sausage alternatives – a dry texturate for plant-based mince like burger patties, a dry texturate with fibrous texture for foods like nuggets, and a wet texturate with a structure similar to muscle tissue for plant-based filet strips.
“Plant-based muscle tissue alternatives remain a big challenge for the industry,” notes Hydrosol Product Manager Florian Bark. “Their authentic meatlike structure gives wet texturates from plant protein great potential. With the expertise of AOT as manufacturer of these sunflower protein wet texturates, and our knowledge of stabilisation and texturing of plant-based meat alternatives, we can develop a broad spectrum of individual product solutions that give our customers unique selling propositions on the market.”
Another plus point is that the texturates are available in conventional as well as organic versions.
There remains the challenge of getting the colour and flavour of the sunflower texturates just right, for example to avoid unpleasant aftertastes.
“Sunflower texturates are naturally dark. For sausages, burgers and other ground meat alternatives that’s not a problem, in fact it’s a benefit. But for nuggets or filet strips that are supposed to be like chicken, a light colour is naturally preferable."
"We can adjust for this very well through combination with other protein concentrates. In our Plant Based Competence Center we have already been getting very good results in a range of application tests,” reports Florian Bark.