Meat substitutes and the challenges for the product developer

The development of alternatives for meat is a hot item in the food sector. A lot of product developers are striving to invent the ultimate meat substitute. And not without reason; the market seems ready. However, developing a tasty plant-based meat analogue is not easy. The product developer is facing the necessary challenges in his path.

The “bite” is important
The biggest challenge is mimicking the meaty texture. TOP defines that as a firm bite with a fibrous cohesion. A juicy structure due to selective moisture release is also important. Juiciness is also supported by fattiness. It is essential that the vegetable fats simulate the melting behavior of animal fats as well as possible, because the melting behavior determines the mouthfeel of the prepared product. The consumer doesn’t want to eat meat but does love the texture of meat.

The mix of binding components is finally important for internal cohesion. In other words, the food glue that keeps everything together. A mix that is not sufficiently fine-tuned for the structure matrix produces a dry and/or crumbly mouthfeel due to excessive moisture binding. All the above mentioned aspects such as moisture and fat management determine the ideal flavor transfer and taste experience.

Database of protein-rich ingredients
TOP has already developed many tasty meat substitutes and has extensive experience in refining the texture. We have developed methods to trap fat, including vegetable oil, in a fibrous structure without curing and without chemical modification such as hydrogenation or interestification. We have also built a very extensive database of protein-rich ingredients which are able to provide the textural backbone of the product. This database contains all technical data and functional properties of these ingredients. This makes it easy to avoid ingredients which contain allergens such as soy and gluten. In the field of binding mixes TOP can offer tailor-made cold and warm firmness, for both vegan (100% vegetable) and vegetarian (100% free of meat and derivatives) recipes.

Other ingredients for a veggie “bite”
After carrying out various successful development projects, it turns out that not only proteins determine the bite of the product. There are natural alternatives that offer comparable firmness and a juicier product. Through intensive research of the technical properties of hydrocolloids, we can quickly develop an initial trial version of a vegetarian sausage, nugget or burger. Naturally, the customer’s wishes are decisive.

What is your challenge?
We know the challenges a product developer faces when developing a meat substitute. With all our research and experiments we have can help to solve these challenges. We are happy to share our knowledge about the most important properties of a good piece of meat and a good meat substitute. Do you recognize the product developer’s challenge? Contact TOP and we will see if our approach is a match. We work on this subject with great pleasure and passion.