20 March 2020

From veggie day to vegan lifestyle

There are numerous and varied reasons for maximising the share of plant based foods in a consumer’s 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 ulitmately lead to nothing short of a food chain revolution and the abolishment of the cow as the pivotal element of human nutrition (www.rethinkx.com/food-and-agriculture) as this in the views of some appears to epitomise the current global resource wasting food economy (www.foeeurope.org/meat-atlas).

Although still a minority the number of vegetarians (estimated at 375 million) on the planet is set to rise. Definitely the consumption of plant based foods will 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 not coming over night and is only one of multiple trends predicted for the food sector (Top 10 Trends in Food Industry for 2019; www.Innovamarketinsights.com). 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 SMEs pushing innovative food concepts into the market it is also the legacy players in the food and ingredient industries that are determined to cash in on the development.

From trend to mainstream?

Industry faces challenges 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 feel wholeheartedly (see article in Foodnavigator.com). Whereas the latter may adopt novel taste sensations the more traditionalist meat lovers need attention moving to become flexitarians as they will likely struggle and reject dominant green notes and flavors missing their Umami biased bouquets, meaty notes and textures. To cater for those customers some vegetarian products have been fortified with lists of ingredients tainting health credentials in the eyes of critics and spoiling clean label claims.

Whatever plant protein challenges the food ingredients sector is facing – the BRAIN Group of companies offers solutions and proprietary resources to respond.

Contact these companies of the BRAIN Group:

  • Biocatalysts: For enzymes to solubilise plant proteins and modify taste profiles.
  • BRAIN AG and Analyticon Discovery: If you are interested in new natural sweeteners and sweetener enhancers, natural salt substitutes, or alternative plant-based flavor carriers.
  • WeissBiotech: If you want to break down plant biomass enzymatically and hydrolyse starch.

More about the BRAIN development program for the nutrition industry:

  • DOLCE: Establishment of an industrial partnership with the goal of identifying and developing natural sweeteners (new natural-based sweeteners and sweetness enhancers). Own cell-based test systems are used as well as the HTC technology patented by BRAIN.
  • Salt-E: Establishment of an industrial partnership with the goal of finding novel salty flavour enhancers to reduce sodium in processed foods. Natural substances from plants serve as the basis for the alternative flavour carriers and can also be tested for their suitability as masking agents for bitter tastes. The cell-based model system uses proprietary, validated cell lines such as Screenline®.
  • FRESCO: Establishment of an industrial partnership with the goal of identifying plant-based antimicrobial candidates for food preservation.

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