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Pamper the palate: Flavors face a meaty problem

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© Reuters. Head chef Brunschweiler shows a hamburger made from pea protein in the Hivauran innovation center in Kemptthal

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By Silke Koltrowitz

ZURICH (Reuters) – In the innovation center of the flavor manufacturer Givaudan near Zurich, the experienced chef Sam Brunschweiler serves a lamb and doner kebab dish that looks and tastes appropriately meaty, but is made from pea protein.

The Swiss company and competitors like International Flavors & Fragrances and Symrise are trying to create the tastiest, plant-based meat alternatives in a market that is growing rapidly due to consumer concerns about health, sustainability and animal welfare.

"A pea tastes like a pea. You put it in a burger, it's not exactly what you'd expect," Givaudan's Savory Flavor Chef Flavio Garofalo told Reuters.

Givaudan is analyzing how fat, protein, sugar and water in meat create different flavors when heated, because "most of the taste comes from cooking," said Garofalo.

Mimicking the conditions in a vessel with non-animal proteins, sugar, and fat – and using less water for roasted flavors and more for cooked flavors – allows specialists to recreate a meaty taste without meat, just as a strawberry taste can be from bananas and apples.

The vegetable meat analog market, dominated by Beyond Meat (NASDAQ :), Impossible Foods, and US global food company Nestle, is expected to be worth $ 27 billion by 2025, according to Euromonitor http://blog.euromonitor . com.

TOO MUCH SALT?

Stacy Pyett, who manages a protein program at Wageningen University & Research, said taste houses played a key role in making more palatable, plant-based meat analogues.

Improving the nutritional profile, which usually contains more salt but fewer vitamins and iron than meat, is also challenging.

Pyett said research showed that salt was easier to taste in a juicy sausage than in a dry one, suggesting that improving juiciness in meat analogs could allow for a reduction in added salt.

Garofalo said Givaudan created flavors that made it possible to reduce salt levels by 35-40% while maintaining the taste.

The company has also developed fat encapsulation technology that preserves fat in plant-based burgers while they cook, just like real meat. Typically, with plant-based products, most of the fats melt and flow into the pan.

"Fat is in meat in what are known as fat cells. When the fat melts, it is in a small capsule that only breaks at a certain temperature," said Garofalo.

The technology pending patent would keep the fat in the patty and make it more juicy, allowing for a reduction in fat content of up to 75% and calories by around 35%.

Chantelle Nicholson, a London-based chef who attended Givaudan's Chef & # 39; s Council on Plant-Based Foods last year, said fat encapsulation technology was "a big breakthrough" as fat made meat taste and it still does difficult is to achieve the same depth of taste with herbal alternatives.

Vegetable meat substitutes are also a priority for Givaudan's colleagues Symrise and IFF.

Symrise said it was particularly important to use natural ingredients from sustainable sources because consumers were interested in them. The German group has developed ProtiScan, a process with which taste disorders in foods with vegetable proteins can be quickly identified.

The US-based IFF, which increased its plant footprint by merging with Dupont Nutrition & Biosciences, said it was about to bring technologies to market that improve mouthfeel, texture and use new natural maskers.

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