Until a few years ago, people who opted for a meatless lifestyle had to accept sacrifices in terms of indulgence when it came to meat alternatives. The market was limited – not least because those who lived a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for animal welfare reasons were not necessarily looking for a “meat-like” sensory experience and were happy with a nut roast. Today, however, subjects like factory farming, with all its ethical and environmental implications, have had an impact on what most consumers put on their tables. As a result, those who actually enjoy eating meat and, as flexitarians, occasionally consciously abstain from animal products, want more from their meat substitutes. In particular, the texture must be right and it must provide a meat-like bite. With BeneoPro W-Tex, BENEO has developed a textured wheat protein that satisfies these demands and delivers authentic imitation meat.
The market research company Global Data predicts compound annual growth of 5.3 percent for this product category in Western Europe over the next five years. Bolognese sauces made from textured wheat, burgers from pea protein and sausages from tofu: products based on alternative vegetable protein sources are booming. Recent studies show that one in three consumers in Germany, France and the United Kingdom regularly choose imitation meat products. They perceive vegetable proteins as being natural and healthy. And it’s true: they are low in LDL cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, but extremely rich in vitamins.
Match with high sensory demands Crucially, how the category will develop in the future depends on whether or not suppliers are able to deliver products that meet the high expectations of consumers. At the moment, it is still the case that much of what is on the market could be improved in sensory terms. But if the offer of products that taste really good and have a natural, meat-like texture, grows, consumer demand will grow too. Food ingredients manufacturers are therefore researching and developing at full speed in order to be able to provide brand owners of imitation meat products with ingredients that meet the highest sensory demands. Vegetable proteins from different raw materials can be used in meat replacement products. However, wheat protein is currently the most popular. With its good sensory properties, it is the first choice for many manufacturers. Its taste is significantly milder than that of other vegetable protein sources.
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