Development of plant based foods

As people increasingly adopt flexitarian diets, plant based meat alternatives are becoming ever more popular.


The food industry are keeping pace with these changes, developing a wider variety of products that are able to replicate the taste, texture and nutrition of meat by using exclusively vegan proteins. Here technical specialist Carole Bingley discusses nutrition, ingredients and attributes that consumers are coming to expect from their meat alternatives.


Video transcript


Hello my name is Carol Bingley and I'm Product Development Technical Specialist here at RSSL and today I'd like to talk a little bit about the development of plant-based products.


In today's market, we're looking to attract the flexitarian consumers. So, these are the consumers who do eat meat and fish and dairy, but they're looking to cut down and start to incorporate more plant-based products in their diets and to attract those sort of consumers we're really looking to replicate the taste and texture of the products that they love.


So, we want to look for ingredients which can provide that meaty texture and also provide the flavour and taste that they associate with the original products. So, if I think about the sorts of ingredients that we'll be using in, for example, a meat based alternative, we'd start with using protein-based ingredients because we're wanting to replicate the nutritional profile, as well as the taste and texture. So, incorporating a sufficient amount of protein is very important for the product.


And we generally start with a texturised protein which would look a little bit like this and these proteins have been extruded and they can give that bite and the fibrous texture that we associate with meat. We'll also be looking for ingredients to help bind everything together, so that the product holds together, particularly through the cooking process, and we don't get the product breaking up and falling to pieces.


Then we'll be looking to add fats and oils, and these could be vegetable oils or solid fats, such as coconut fat, which can be solid at room temperature and then melt through the cooking process and give that fatty mouth feel and give some succulents and juiciness to the product. The appearance of the product is also really key and what we're seeing that consumers expect from these products is that they replicate the appearance of the meat prior to cooking but then will change colour through the cooking process.


So, for the raw product we'll be looking to add colours such as this, so beetroot extract and other vegetable extracts, and then potentially adding colours which can give that caramelised brown colour once cooked. Obviously flavour is really important and we'll be using lots of different ingredients to deliver the flavour of the product. So, herbs and spices and also flavourings which can deliver, for example, beefy flavours into burger-type products or pork flavorings into sausages. So, with these products we're looking to tick a lot of boxes. I've mentioned taste and texture being really important and obviously if a consumer doesn't like the taste and texture of a product, no matter how good it is for them, they're never going to come back and buy it again, but the nutritional profile is also important. We don't want the consumer to be compromising in any way in terms of their protein intake or increasing the amount of saturated fat for example that they're taking in with their products, but the other aspect is clean labels.


So, when we talk about 'clean label' we mean short, recognisable ingredients. So, that's a real challenge. I've talked about lots of ingredients here that we want to include in the products to deliver on the taste and texture. It's not an easy job and it takes a lot of work to get to a product which you're willing to put in front of a consumer and take to market.

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