The texture of vegan food

For those who are looking to make the change to plant based meat alternatives, texture is one of the most important factors.



Identifying what textures the consumer likes and how to get it to them is key to developing a product that will have mass appeal.


Here RSSL Technical Specialist Fred Gates talks us through the considerations made when trying to replicate meat textures in vegan proteins and how innovation through science can help achieve stellar results.




Hello I'm Fred Gates and I'm a technical specialist in physical science. I will be talking to you about the texture of vegan food. Texture is the most important criteria for the consumer along with flavor.


The first challenge is to identify what the consumer likes and defining the key textural attributes of interest. For meat analogues we may want a chewy product but we don't want it to be too tough whereas for cheese hardness and crumbliness may be of interest.


Texture is a combination of tactile, that is touch sensations which we interpret based on our expectations of the product. It's worth remembering that texture is not a static property, it evolves as we chew the product and the analytical techniques we use will only ever measure a few of the textural attributes at a time. The process of developing an analytical measure should start as early on in the process as possible, ideally it'll involve the product developer and someone with a clear insight of what the consumer wants as well as the physical scientist. The reason for this is that unless we're able to control the texture the methods will be of little use in the long run.


Texture measurements are product specific. It depends on the type of attribute that we're trying to measure. For soft products viscosity may be useful so for example for drinks and soft pastes, but for other methods we will be using more conventional texture analysis methods.


When we start with texture analysis we often get a feel for the product before moving on to using a texture analyzer. The texture analyzer tells us about how the product deforms under a force which will then represent the type of force, for example as we're chewing a product the force we feel in our mouth. It can also be as we feel the product.

A lot of different texture attributes and it'll also depend on things like the temperature of the product, so for example in your mouth it'll warm up, so we might make one to make the measurements at different temperatures as well.


We need to think about how to compare products if they are of different structures or have different sizes. Microscopy can be a useful tool to complement texture analysis as we can then see the structure as well as measure the effect it has on texture. Formulation and process both have an impact on texture. Texture analysis can help the product developer to optimize their product.


Instrumental texture analysis gives us quantitative data which allows us to compare the effect of changes to the formulation and or the process. The more complex product development projects, a statistical design of experiments can be used to optimize the texture.


The texture analyzer forces us to think about the important textural attributes, as well as how the consumer will perceive it as they cut it and chew it. Texture analysis helps us to define control and optimize product quality and is a useful tool and we're very happy to help you in this.


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