BLOG: Natural Plant-based Fiber to Improve Vegetarian Meats

By April 3, 2018In the News

Vegetarian Meat SandwichRegardless the reason – reducing saturated fats and cholesterol, celebrating meatless Mondays, trying a new experience or starting a diet for life – the alternative meat market sales propelled north over the past two years. Vegetarian or vegan meats have been in the market for over a decade. So why now a ramp in sales? Prior art used soy and wheat-based proteins, eggs and cheese to form a matrix to be shaped into grounds, patties and links. Today, there is a plethora of plant-based proteins to choose from which kicked the creativity up a few notches. Besides the health and wellness push, there are also the sustainable and environmental drivers helping to shape this new market of alternative meats.

Common Issues
However formulating with new plant-based ingredients such as ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils can introduce new challenges. Some of these health halo ingredients manage water holding differently especially when exposed to certain food processes and shelf life over time. Binding is key to prevent products from crumbling apart. Consumers are not the most delicate chefs in the kitchen, therefore, the patty versions tend to dry out when exposed to high temperatures over cook time. Hockey puck, anyone? And if these alternative meats are intended to simulate their animal-containing counterparts, then the texture and bite should be similar.

Natural Solution
One option is to use Citri-Fi®, a natural citrus fiber which is produced by a clean process that opens up the fiber to expose high surface area. This high surface area holds and binds large amounts of water and oil tightly. In products using alternative meat proteins, this natural fiber is fast swelling without the need of heat activation which provides stable moisture control during processing. Citri-Fi binds the moisture to buffer the loss during harsh final cook conditions. As a result, the patty or sausage link produces a juicy and tender bite. Citri-Fi also binds the oil tightly to reduce purge and maintain that full-fat mouthfeel.

This vegetarian meat market also speaks to the natural, plant-based, allergen-free and non-GMO movement. With consumers shying away from chemically-based ingredients, utilizing the nutritional and functional components of whole plant-based foods is the new frontier. Citri-Fi’s natural composition provides functionalities and contributes fiber as nature intended. Also, this natural fiber is made from real citrus fruit which is non-GMO and allergen-free. As a result, this natural ingredient can be labeled citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour which resonate well in the natural markets.

Author: Jennifer Stephens (VP of Marketing)

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Bright Future for Alternative Proteins (Food Processing)