Less energy consumption for the production of meat substitutes

Meat substitutes are better for the environment than the average meat product, that is beyond dispute. However, obtaining proteins for the production of meat substitutes also requires a lot of energy and is therefore less sustainable than is often thought. We see it as a challenge to make the meat substitute production process more sustainable.

Mild fractionation of proteins saves energy
Meat substitutes mostly consist of protein flour, protein concentrates or protein isolates from vegetable sources, such as soy, wheat (gluten), pea or lupine1. Concentrating or isolating proteins from a grain or legume is often done by a chemical process which requires a lot of energy. This process consists of the salting in and salting out of proteins, extraction with alkaline solvents or acids or other fractionation processes and followed by drying. Making a product with a higher protein content, such as a protein isolate, requires more energy than making a protein flour or concentrate, because the product has to be extracted further and further.

However, it is not always necessary to process the raw materials so intensively. In mild fractionation, the raw materials such as wheat, soy or pea are fractionated with a lower energy consumption, with less or no solvents or without the use of added water. The functional properties of the proteins are better preserved. The product is less pure than conventional protein isolates but the presence of carbohydrates and fiber often contribute positively to the properties of the meat substitute. It is actually illogical to use a highly purified protein isolate and then add fibers, starches or other functional components back into the mix.

Tasty and sustainable
TOP works with various partners on projects to develop mild fractionation techniques, such as gluten-starch separation and optimizing the entire supply chain of meat substitutes. At every step in the chain, from milder fractionation to the packaging of the end product, we always consider sustainability and circularity. By taking the origin and functionality of our raw materials into account during the product development of new meat analogues, we can make products that are not only tasty, but also produced more sustainably.

In this way, TOP contributes to a sustainable future full of tasty products that are not processed further than strictly necessary. Are you curious about how TOP can help you make your product range more sustainable? Please contact us via  1 In general, we speak of a protein flour when the protein content is comparable to the protein content of the raw material, of a protein concentrate when the fat and soluble carbohydrates have been removed from the flour (usually with a protein content of 50-80%) and of a protein isolate when the fat, water soluble carbohydrates and most other non-protein components have been removed from the flour (usually >80% protein).