Consumers want real taste in their veggie burger - and are willing to pay more for it

Last month, I noticed an article in which McDonalds announced that it was trialling vegan chicken nuggets in Norway* (following the recent roll-out of its McVegan burger). I find this to be yet another clear sign for the food industry that the trend towards meat and protein alternatives is…becoming far more than just a trend.

Today, the global protein alternative market stands at $2 billion and is growing at a healthy rate of 4% per year. What is driving this rise? And what can our industry do to meet the changing needs of consumers, who reduce their meat intake, for health and sustainability reasons?

That’s why, at DSM we recently published a Consumer Insights Report called Plant Power, for which we surveyed around 2,500 consumers in the USA, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the UK, who go ‘meat-or-dairy-free’ at least once a week.

I found the results enlightening, specifically, the following:

  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of meat reducers surveyed said that they were doing so primarily for perceived health reasons.
  • 25% of the meat reducers we surveyed said they eat meat alternatives regularly.
  • Of the consumers who regularly eat meat alternatives, just 28% said these tasted good; this means that, 72% of those who eat meat alternatives thought they tasted OK at best.
  • But some 1/3 of the consumers who regularly eat meat alternatives would be perfectly willing to pay more for meat alternatives that have a similar taste to meat.

It seems like the message couldn’t be clearer: consumers want a tasty alternative to animal protein and they are willing to pay for it. This represents an enormous opportunity for manufacturers. The question is…how?

Creating a delicious meat-free meat taste

Recreating meat flavor in plant-based meat replacers, such as veggie burgers, is notoriously challenging because the soy, pea or bean-based foundations of these products, lack the precise combinations of protein, fat, salt and reducing sugars that impart flavor to real meat. Low-fat plants like soy lack the juiciness, the so-called mouthfeel, that we associate with meat. They also contain different amino acids to meat which make it very difficult to achieve the caramelization of meat and its distinctive roasted/cooked taste.

To overcome this challenge in plant-based products, the team here at DSM has developed a Meat Alternatives Taste Toolbox based on natural yeast extracts and process flavors that deliver that authentic savory, salty, umami flavor and fatty mouthfeel that consumers love.

So, to give you an idea of what the products in the Meat Alternatives Taste Toolbox are all about, here are the benefits:

  • Maxavor® YE provides authentic, instant culinary natural flavors with a savory, umami taste and mouthfeel, and specific meat taste directions.
  • Maxavor® YE Key is ideal for producing concentrated, instant, natural culinary flavors. It is characterised by low salt levels and comes with specific meat taste directions.
  • Maxarome® Pure/Select strongly delivers umami taste, juiciness, masks any beany soy after-taste, and has no interference with the aroma of the meat analogue.
  • Gistex™ creates a basic savory taste to provide an outstanding umami taste and offers natural yeast extract or natural flavor declaration.

The yeast extracts and process flavors in our Meat Analogues Taste Toolbox are the result of our long heritage in biotechnology and 400 bright scientists that work day in and day out on creating products and solutions that build and deliver taste in a range of different applications, including meat alternatives. So, if you’d like to know more about how we can help you build delicious meat-free meat taste in meat alternatives (or if you would like to know more details about our Plant Power report, please get in touch!

DSM Solutions

Explore DSM's savory taste solutions for creating unique meat taste in meat-free applications. Read more>

Insights report: Plant-based alternatives becoming part of the mainstream

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Published on

27 November 2019