Hydrosol Helps Faux Meat Makers Meet Growing Market Needs
The boom in vegan meat substitutes continues. A study by Mintel shows that the greatest growth is among so-called “flexitarians,” semi-vegetarians who have significantly reduced their consumption of meat.
According to the market research company, last year 18 percent of Germans ate more meat alternatives than during the previous year. Mintel talks of a paradigm change, as niche vegetarians turn into mass-market flexitarians, and the commercial potential for meat alternative products is correspondingly high. But such products are only successful if their taste and consistency compare favorably to real meat products, and if they offer health benefits and ideally also address the ongoing convenience trend.
Hydrosol GmbH & Co. KG, an Ahrensburg, Germany-based supplier of food stabilizers, has developed a new stabilizing and texturing system that enables manufacturers of meat alternatives to better cater to the wishes of ever broader target groups.
Vegan nuggets suitable for consumption after being heated are one example. What's special about these nuggets is their meat-like texture, which is achieved with the aid of HydroTOP High Gel.
“The system is based on a specific combination of hydrocolloids and fibers that act as emulsifying and stabilizing components,” explained Dr. Carsten Carstens, head of product development for meat and sausage products at Hydrosol. “First an emulsion is made with HydroTOP High Gel 30, oil and water. This stabilizes the hydratized texturate through thermoreversible gelling, meaning that heating the formable mass turns it into a product that is pleasantly firm to the bite.”
Treating the texturate with the HydroTOP emulsion creates a formable, slightly sticky meat analogue comparable to a ground meat mass used for meatballs and the like. Thanks to this adhesive property, vegetables with smooth surfaces like corn or peas can be worked into the mass without problems. The meat substitute mass can be individually seasoned and produced continuously on a conventional line.
HydroTOP High Gel 30 is suitable for all standard commercial wheat, soy and pea protein-based texturates.
“In application, the synergies and interactions between HydroTOP and the protein texturate are used to full effect,” said Carstens. “High Gel 30 turns the fibrous structure of the texturate into a meat-like structure.”
The vegan nuggets can be pan- or deep-fried, and in addition to texture there is another clear advantage – they are very declaration-friendly. The products aren’t just vegan, they can also be advertised as free of soy and gluten. Furthermore, they use neither flavor enhancers nor phosphates.
Besides vegan nuggets, manufacturers can use HydroTOP High Gel 30 with the texturates from the Hydrosol Stabiprot series to make many other products. Examples include vegan burgers and patties, as well as vegan schnitzel with breading. All products can be deep-frozen without problems.
In addition, with High Gel 30 all other formed ground meat, fish, poultry, diced ham and similar products can be made at low cost with excellent quality. The meat and fish products have a firm bite, are juicy, and retain their shape.
With its international network of 15 subsidiaries and numerous qualified foreign representatives, Hydrosol is represented in key market around the world. As a member of the independent, owner-operated Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, it can make use of many synergies. The company has access to the knowledge of some 70 R&D specialists and to the extensive applications technology of the group's large technology center in Ahrensburg, near the port city of Hamburg.