PLANT-BASED, THE NEXT GENERATION: Emerging tech in the vegan meat space
Plant-based meat has increasingly been making headlines in recent years, as product sales swell and industry investment continues to reach dizzying heights. Alongside growing consumer awareness around the issues facing the global meat industry and the perception of plant-based meat as a healthy, sustainable alternative, the growth of plant-based meat can be attributed to the latest generation of new, high-quality products that increasingly have a taste, texture and mouth-feel much closer to the real thing.
However, this is only the beginning of the journey, notes research firm IDTechEx, with plant-based meat producers increasingly looking towards a range of emerging technologies to create the next generation of hyper-realistic plant-based alternatives. In its new report – ‘Plant-Based Meat 2021–2031’ www.idtechex.com/en/research-report/plant-based-meat-2021-2031/823 – IDTechEx explores the technologies that are shaping the plant-based meat industry, alongside the consumer and market factors that will decide whether plant-based meat can truly disrupt the US$1-trillion-plus global meat industry.
Catering to the carnivores
Although plant-based meat alternatives have existed for a long time, they have historically been targeted at vegetarians and vegans, who may be happy to sacrifice product quality for ethical reasons. However, to truly make an impact on global meat consumption (as well as accessing the huge market opportunity that comes with it), plant-based meat producers must target the 95 per cent of consumers who do eat meat. Although these carnivorous consumers are increasingly looking to reduce meat consumption for health and sustainability reasons, they are less likely to tolerate a drop in product quality – targeting these meat-eaters therefore requires companies to make plant-based products that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Based on this thinking, modern plant-based meat companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have invested heavily into R&D and technology development to make their products as realistic as possible. Impossible Foods uses a genetically-engineered strain of yeast to produce soy leghemoglobin, a key ingredient that makes its meat substitutes ‘bleed’ and gives them a uniquely meaty flavour.
To create its Beyond Burger product, Beyond Meat uses a food extrusion machine – originally developed at the University of Missouri – that uses heat and pressure to force plant proteins into a fibrous, meat-like texture that resembles muscle fibres. Rather than using genetic engineering to produce its products, the Beyond Meat burger uses beet juice to replicate the bleeding from a real burger. Coconut oil and cocoa butter are used to provide marbling to further replicate the texture of real meat.
This technology development has helped to create a new generation of plant-based meat products that are slowly winning over meat-eating consumers. Now, companies across the world are working to leverage a range of emerging technologies to help create the next generation of plant-based products.
Courtesy of Food & Beverage Networker – full article here