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February 25th, 2019

Where's the beef? The growing trend towards meat analogues

More and more people are exploring vegan and vegetarian alternatives. What may have started with a person simply introducing a ‘Meatless Monday’ into their weekly menu has, in many cases, expanded into a flexitarian or even vegetarian diet.

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It’s no surprise, because vegan and vegetarian alternatives are seen as a sustainable and healthier choice. Indeed, the number of potential benefits of going meat-free is as overwhelming as the number of vegetables available in a supermarket. People are making choices for a variety of reasons inspired by curiosity, animal welfare, lifestyle, or sustainability. Films, books and documentaries detect the pros and cons, and many influential figures in sport and show business are real proponents of their own choices and beliefs. 

One result of this trend is the growing popularity of so-called meat analogues. These are food products that look, feel and taste like meat. Generally, meat analogues are a blend of plant-based proteins, flavoring and coloring to replicate beef, pork, poultry or even seafood.

savory-meat-analogues-portrait

Meat analogues market is growing, and flavoring is key

The global meat analogue market is already sizable, with a value of $2 billion, and is growing at a steady rate of around four percent per year. The USA is the leading market with a share of >30% (value) and >20% (volume). Nine other countries together account for >50% of the global market (value). The market is dominated by frozen meat analogues, but growth is becoming increasingly driven by chilled meat analogues. 61% of all meat substitutes launched in the past year were chilled products. The most popular meat analogues are burgers, followed by sausages and tofu. Flavoring is key to a successful meat analogue. In 2017, of the 1207 new meat analogue products introduced, 495 contained one or more flavors; around half of them natural. 

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Challenges for meat analogues manufacturers

The creation of realistic meat analogues does however present several challenges. The protein base can result in a rather bland taste, while off-notes can frequently be discerned. They lack the traditional meaty/fatty mouthfeel. In the production of some meat analogues the protein base requires the addition of salt. Therefore, it’s difficult to create a taste profile without further increasing the salt level.

To help food producers address these challenges, DSM has developed its Natural Meat Analogue Toolbox with a unique building block approach. The toolbox makes it very easy for food producers to add their own ‘signature’ to meat analogue applications, by building a unique taste. From taste enhancement and specific taste directions to salt reduction with uncompromised taste; the Natural Meat Analogue Toolbox incorporates a number of key components:

  • 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.
  • Maxagusto® provides instant, freshly cooked culinary vegetable and spice flavors.
  • Maxarome® Pure/Select strongly enhances umami taste, enhances 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.

 

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