Olivier Chevalier, Senior Product Manager Functional Proteins at BENEO, discusses how food manufacturers can offer improved taste and texture profiles in vegetarian recipes, using textured wheat protein – one of the company’s most recent ingredient developments.
What is driving plant protein?
The uptake of meat alternatives is being driven by a range of factors, including consumer concerns about health, animal welfare, the environment and cost (1). The result has been a shift in allegiance from meat-based protein to plant-based protein, with one in five consumers in Europe increasing their intake of plant-based foods (2). As more consumers choose to follow a meat-reduced or meat-free diet, new meat substitute launches are predicted to have a CAGR of +5.3% in Western Europe over the next five years (3).
Importantly, a quarter of consumers are willing to pay a premium for plant-based products (4). As a result, plant proteins are well placed to make the most of this growing consumer demand for meat-free alternatives.
The popularity of BeneoPro W-Tex wheat protein
Wheat protein is now the number one plant protein used in new meat substitute launches (5). This is in part due to wheat’s reputation amongst consumers as a natural and healthy ingredient. It is also recognised as having a more neutral taste than other well-known plant-based proteins. In taste trials, BENEO tested its new BeneoPro W-Tex (textured wheat protein) to gain consumer feedback on the neutrality of the taste as well as the texture. Vegetarian imitation beef burgers containing the protein were created and tested on 88 consumers. More than 90% said that they were impressed with the burgers’ very neutral taste and no off-flavour was perceived. In addition, 87% found the burgers close in consistency to beef burgers (6) , thanks to BeneoPro W-Tex’s unique alveolar structure (7) that allows the development of a meat-like juicy texture.
A range of vegetarian recipe concepts
BeneoPro W-Tex creates meat-free products with a stable texture and fibrous structure that can be flavoured with a variety of tastes, herbs and spices. BENEO has developed a range of vegetarian recipe concepts for the wheat protein, from beef burgers imitation, nuggets and vegetable patties to Bolognese. All of these new recipe concepts have been well received during taste and texture testing.
Thanks to a highly developed and monitored production process, BENEO is now able to offer food producers truly exciting, meat-alternative recipe development opportunities.
1) Source: Mintel CDC
2) Source: BENEO Nutrition and Health Survey 2019
3) Source: GlobalData 2019
4) Source: HealthFocus International Global Plant Report 2019
5) Source: GlobalData Market Analyzer
6) Source: Data was collected from in total 88 people at several occasions since October 2019
7) A structure composed of many very small cavities more or less ordered, like honeycomb