Dr Patrick Lorenz, Senior Business Development Manager at BRAIN AG, provides his insights into a market innovating to cater for diverse dietary preferences.
There are numerous and varied reasons for consumers to move to a plant-based diet; ethics, religion health, taste and trendiness are some of them. Worries of finite resources, a growing population and climate crisis are adding the call for sustainability to this list. In an extreme projection this may ultimately lead to nothing short of a food chain revolution and the abolishment of the cow as the pivotal element of human nutrition. This radical view is supported in the review Meat Atlas: facts and figures about the animals we eat, which highlights the current global resource wasting food economy. Although still a minority, the number of vegetarians (estimated at 375 million) on the planet is set to rise. The consumption of plant-based foods will definitely increase and sure enough industries serving the sector are determined to meet the challenge to increase the appeal, variety and availability of “green” foods to help the current meat-eating majority of omnivorous consumers on their journey turning flexitarian and possibly vegetarian or even vegan. This transition of lifestyles, habits and tastes will be a gradual process, it will not happen overnight and is only one of multiple trends predicted for the food sector. Spearheaded by a curious, urban, health conscious and environmentally concerned generation of consumers this trend is predicted to become mainstream. Besides an ever-growing number of agile small to medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) pushing innovative food concepts into the market, it is also the legacy players in the food and ingredient industries that are determined to gain market share in this consumer driven environment.
There are challenges for the industry to face when innovating in this field. This is reflected in the fact that the market is diverging to cater for two populations of customers; one trying to hang on to traditional taste profiles and textures resembling meat, and those embracing veggie notes and the benefits these bring wholeheartedly. Whereas the latter may adopt novel taste sensations, the more traditionalist meat lovers need attention to move to a more flexitarian lifestyle. They will likely struggle and reject dominant green notes and flavours missing their Umami biased bouquets, meaty notes and textures. To cater for these customers some vegetarian products have already been fortified with lists of ingredients tainting health credentials in the eyes of critics and spoiling clean label claims.
Whatever plant protein challenges you are facing in the food ingredients sector (e.g. taste, solubility, salt or sugar content) the BRAIN Group of companies can help you through the gauntlet of legislative demands and consumer expectations. We have a unique offering of solutions and proprietary resources to support your needs.
Contact Biocatalysts for enzymes to improve the functionality of your products including solubilising plant proteins and modify taste profiles. Engage with BRAIN and Analyticon Discovery for their pipelines to identify novel natural sweeteners and sweetness enhancers, natural salt replacements, taste molecules and modifiers. Call at WeissBiotech if you need to enzymatically brake down plant biomass and hydrolyse starch.