What’s next for meat mimicry?

Behind the fridge in a supermarket, the days of looking for a rubber-like bland, perhaps outdated, meat substitute for that one token are over.

Today, dedicated plant-based sections, if not plant-based aisles, are commonplace in retail stores, including meat-free burgers, sausages, minced meat, bacon, fish fingers, chicken fillets, and even more. You can carry anything in the UK and even in the UK. A classic toad in a pub in a hole.

According to a recent Kerry Taste and Nutrition survey, demand for plant-based products continues to grow, with 42% of people not using meat or dairy products “more regularly” compared to 2019 figures. I have chosen that. Throughout Europe, the plant-based market is expected to reach a value of € 18.3 billion by 2023.

Given the surge in demand from plants, what’s next? Is plant-derived meat persistent, or will future plant-derived products look, taste, and smell like plants?

Thicken the plant

As the demand for plant-based meat analogues grows, so does space innovation.

The best-known example is arguably the flagship product of Impossible Foods, headquartered in the United States. Impossible burger.. After a $ 80 million (€ 72 million) study reported for five years, in 2016 the company launched a meat-free patty that “bleeds” thanks to a molecule known as heme. This “magical ingredient” gives the meat a slightly metallic flavor. It also exists in plants.

The Impossible Burger ingredient list includes soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, salt, gum and water. Hamburgers also contain vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin B6, thiamine and niacin.

Getty Images / Balmarini

Innovation is progressing rapidly on this side of the pond. Nestlé regularly improves its Garden Gourmet Sensational Burger recipes. Latest iterationAccording to the food giant, it produces “the thickest plant-based flavor ever” and “more juicy texture than ever before.”

Nestlé’s sensational burgers also advocate soy protein, vegetable oils, vinegar spirits, flavors, methylcellulose, plant concentrates (apples, beetroot, carrots, hibiscus), salt and malt extract powder.

Both of these examples, and many others, are full of plant-based ingredients. Meatless Farm manufactures products from pea protein, and Heura fortifies soy-enriched burgers with an innovative fat analog made from olive oil.

The important thing is that all these products work as the manufacturer intended. In other words, it looks, tastes, smells, and feels like meat. That is, none of the plant-based ingredients look, taste, smell, or feel like plants.

vice versa…

Turning plants into meat analogues is great for many reasons. To get started, plant-based raw material production emits less greenhouse gases than meat-based counterparts and requires less water and land.

And don’t forget the aspect of animal welfare. Despite its meaty appearance, no animal died in making plant-based sausages.

Another obvious advantage is that moving from beef burgers to plant-based alternatives that are fairly close to mimicking the look, texture, taste and feel of beef is not a big leap for consumers. .. You don’t have to make dramatic changes in your behavior. in fact, Consumers may not even be able to tell the difference..

Ultimately, meat-free brands offer what consumers want: a meat imitation. The success of the plant-based market is as good evidence as the growing demand from consumers who want to reduce their meat intake.

And down …

But the situation is not all different. In the eyes of consumers Sector sports “health halo”, Plant-based analogs have been criticized for their “super-processed” nature and nutritional reliability.

A 2020 survey commissioned by Gosh, a vegan meat maker!foodOnePoll found that more than one-third of consumers believe that plant-based products are “craftsmen” rather than “highly processed.” A total of 38% believe that plant-based products are made exclusively from the “recognizable” ingredients found in home cupboards.

The survey also revealed that four in ten shoppers believe that plant-based foods contain only natural ingredients.

At that time, oh my god! Food marketing manager William Topp suggested that consumers are “confused about what they eat every day.” The study also revealed a lack of “concerns” about the common and synthetic ingredients used to provide taste and texture profiles for plant-based foods.

Sausage Drong G

GettyImages / DronG

Plant-based analogs have been criticized as “unhealthy,” especially with regard to salt content.

Last year, the UK campaign group Action on Salt analyzed 290 plant-based vegan meals from 45 restaurants, takeaways, fast food and coffee chains. Clarified survey resultsThree of the five plant-based restaurant meals investigated using nutritional information contained more than 3 grams of salt. This is half the maximum daily salt intake for adults.

19 meals contain more than 6g of salt, which is equivalent to the daily limit for adults in a single meal. At the time, campaign manager Sonia Pombo emphasized that it was important to know that the “plant-based” or “vegan” label did not automatically certify a product as healthy.

It has been suggested that the nutritional profiles of meat and plant-based meat substitutes are different. A recent laboratory analysis conducted by researchers at Duke University in the United States showed that meat is not nutritionally equivalent to what is close to meat.

“To consumers reading nutrition labels, it may appear to be nutritionally compatible.” Stephen van Fleet, Principal Researcher at the Duke Institute for Molecular Physiology, said. “But when I used metabolomics to look behind the curtain and look at the extended nutrition profile, I found that there was a big difference between meat and plant-based meat substitutes.”

This study speaks to me. If you look at a plant-based burger in your backpack, you’ll quickly look for protein content. If it is comparable to what is found in traditional meat products, it is much more likely to be in the shopping cart.

I have been guilty of recognizing that such products are nutritionally replaceable, and I suspect I am the only one.

Staring at the crystal ball

There is still room to move within the analog space of meat. The brand has nailed meat imitation in so many ways. If the nutrition and ingredient list can catch up completely, there is even less reason for Europeans to avoid reducing meat intake.

But I wonder if this is where we stay plant-based. Imitate meat forever. Or can innovators direct plant-based movements in another direction? Would it be very bad if in the future you could make a plant taste, look, smell, and feel like a plant while staring at a crystal ball?

Crystal ball Kyono

Getty Images / kyoshino

Perhaps we are heading towards the analog whiplash effect of meat. As a result, consumers want minimally processed “natural” ingredients in products that they are not impersonating.

Earlier this year, Annika Boström-Kumlin, chief marketing officer of Finnish plant-based maker Beanit, told the Food Navigator panel that meat analogues played a role. It is impossible to disagree with this.

But in the future, she predicts that new types of plant-based foods will enter the market. In the case of Boström-Kumlin, these products “do not necessarily imitate meat.” Rather, it would “stand on its own feet” and “bring vegetarian choices to the table” without copying the sensory characteristics of beef, chicken, mutton and even toads into the holes.

On the same panel, Stefan Uhlmann, head of Döhler cereals, business unit cereals, nuts and pulses, agreed that NPD would change direction. “For the last few years, imitation has been the main strategy. We imitate milk and ground beef. But now we have an audience and a target. [market] It’s so big that it’s plant-based [move on] From imitating and creating your own category. ”

Eggplant cod Moore

Getty Images / Taramua

Ultimately, moving away from meat imitation is a natural umami-laden mushroom and tomato SKU, whether it’s a beetroot product that exudes juice (no, don’t imitate blood!). Umami is a step towards celebrating plants.

We may already be slowly heading in this direction.German start-ups WaldingCreates raw meat substitutes from laetiporus “forest chicken” mushrooms.UK start-ups curatorI make vegan burgers and meatballs from mushrooms. Wicked Kitchen’s plant-based line includes the “M’Shroom Shreds” meal kit.

The launch of these SKUs themselves suggests a growing demand for plant-based foods. And, of course, the “meat-like” taste, aroma and texture of mushrooms can easily help in this space.

Perhaps in the future, not only fungi, but more minimally treated plants will be centralized.

Source: Nature
“A metabolomics comparison of plant-based meat and grass-fed meat shows significant nutritional differences, despite comparable nutritional component panels.”
Published July 5, 2021
DOI: https: //
Authors: Stephan van Vliet, James R. Bain, Michael J. Muehlbauer, Frederick D. Provenza, Scott L. Kronberg, Carl F. Pieper, Kim M. Huffman What’s next for meat mimicry?

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