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How cultivated plant-based technology can unlock the next wave of innovation in protein migration

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The plant-based meat market is already quite a category. The company has grown from his US$430 million global sales in 2019 to his $1.4 billion global value in 2020, according to Good Food Institute (GFI) data. Plant-based analogues account for just 1.4% of total retail meat sales and are prevalent in 18% of households, he said, GFI revealed.

Many believe the key to unlocking this potential is to create products that offer a meat-like experience. Next Generation development efforts are increasingly focused on offering whole cuts such as chicken breast and beef steak.

Wholecuts are the holy grail of plant-based NPDs

One such innovator is Juicy Marbles, which makes soy-based filet mignon using a proprietary Meat-o-matic technology that “assembles” the lean meat and fat components. For CEO and founder Tilen Travnik, it’s no surprise that alternative proteins are pushing toward the whole cut. After all, whole cuts make up about 60% of actual meat consumption. It’s no surprise that quite a few companies are chasing the dream of a plant-based or cultured whole cut. .

Speaking at the FoodNavigator Protein Vision event earlier this year, Travnik explained that he expects the pursuit of whole cuts to accelerate innovation in plant-based production. He predicted that he could develop techniques for the aroma, structure and mouthfeel of the individual sub-components that make up the whole cut, and take advantage of the experience these individual components can provide.

For example, Juicy Marbles can now produce plant-based steaks with the same fat marbling found in traditional steaks today.

Juicy Marbles has developed a fatty, marbled, plant-based steak / Photo: Juicy Marbles

But while technological advances have the potential to accelerate future product development, Steven Cornett, NIZO project manager for plant protein technology, says that enhancing today’s technology is in itself what the field is looking for. For example, when it comes to excursion technology, the thickness of the product is quite limited and its excellence is not always comparable to real steak. .

Approaches like Shear-Shell Technology, which converts plant proteins into a layered fibrous structure that closely resembles the look and texture of steak, have their own set of problems, the plant protein expert continued. . Proper formulation can improve product quality. The challenge here is scalability. Currently it is a batch-based technology and it is very difficult to bring it to industrial scale.

Clean label conundrum

This isn’t the only hurdle plant-based formulators face to create ever more meaty bites. Consumer expectations for clean labels must also be considered.

Take methylcellulose for example. Used by renowned brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, it offers attractive gelling and emulsifying properties to cook plant-based burgers for extra juiciness. But as the current lawsuit going through U.S. courts highlights, methylcellulose isn’t something consumers have in their kitchen cupboards, it’s the ultra-processed properties of plant-based meat analogues. It is often held up as evidence of

Focusing on this ingredient highlights that both Cornet and Travnik are commonly used in processed meat and other food industry applications. Regardless, methylcellulose has become associated with questions about the ability of plant-based meats to provide clean-label products.

This is one of the main challenges facing many product developers. How do you replace this magic ingredient? Because it has many properties that are sought after. It can form a gel. can be emulsified. It can bind a lot of water. Replacing all that functionality would probably require a full list of ingredients, something that consumers frown on, Cornette noted.

Ido Savir is the CEO of SuperMeat, an Israeli cultivated meat pioneer. He agrees that future innovation efforts in the alternative protein space will see a move toward clean labeling. We are the first or second generation of these high-quality meat analogues, he predicts. We had to compromise on some points. Our current focus is on achieving both clean labels and high quality.

The challenge of using ‘natural’ ingredients to produce clean-label lookalikes / Pic: GettyImages-kerdkanno hybrid products: the best of both?

Savir believes cultured meat, made from animal base cells and grown in bioreactors, could play an interesting role in this area, providing functional ingredients he described as inherently clean. .

Savir believes a hybrid approach that incorporates both cultivated meat and plant-based offerings can offer the best of both worlds. Flavor delivery and mouthfeel. Providing high-performance ingredients from cultured sources helps reduce the ingredient list, but still provides a superior experience for the consumer.

But will this approach resonate with consumers? Savir highlights a consumer survey conducted by SuperMeat that shows that about half of consumers already want to try farmed meat.And while the majority of plant-based shoppers report being motivated by concerns about health, the environment, or animal welfare, Travnik says that growing ingredients that meet those needs There is a big difference between the hybrid products that we have today and the hybrid products that come to market. [that use cultivated ingredients] It’s an ethical factor, he suggested.

The cellular farming community has something to offer the plant-based community. Think aroma and fat.

Cultivated ingredients could unlock a new wave of plant-based innovation / Pic: GettyImages-HQuality VideoScale and market reach for cell-ag

Collaboration with the plant-based sector could also help cellular agriculture overcome what it characterizes as one of the biggest barriers to this emerging industry: scale.

Food tech entrepreneurs believe that cultured meat is on the verge of hitting the market. Regulatory approvals are still pending globally, with the exception of Singapore, but he expects the first generation of cultured meat products to start becoming commercially available next year. The big issues, he continued, are cost and capacity.

Hybrid products offer the opportunity to build scale and massive reach. Savir predicts that most companies with large-scale products will turn to hybrid products for two reasons. The first is cost and capacity, as both are limited. Second, product maturity. There is still work to be done. By using these hybrid approaches, you can take advantage of the amazing technology already available in the food industry.

Travnik reveals that Juicy Marbles is already working with an unnamed partner in the field of cellular agriculture to try different components, using Juicy Marbles’ production technology as a testbed for culture ingredients. . Hybrid products will appear. I think it will appear soon.

Sources

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2/ https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2022/08/11/how-cultivated-and-plant-based-technologies-can-unlock-the-next-wave-of-innovation-in-the-protein-transition

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