Many consumers consider replacing meat by vegetable alternatives due to sustainability issues. However they are not willing to give up the sensory reward of eating meat. The perception of meat is characterized by specific sensory attributes, such as bite and juiciness, that are rare in other food products. The origin of these attributes is the fibrillar structure of the muscle tissue in meat. The majority of current meat alternatives, based on vegetable proteins such as soy, wheat or pea, lack this fibrillar structure.
We have successfully developed a technology to produce fibrillar structures from vegetable proteins. Soy and pea protein isolates were used to optimize the production protocol to obtain these fibres. The texturising functionality of the fibres was tested by preparing hamburger type meat alternatives. The meat alternatives prepared from pea fibres showed the juicy and bite characteristics that are typical for meat products. “This technology is ready to be implemented into new tasty meat replacers that deliver the required bite experience,” according to senior scientist Fred van de Velde.