Motif research collaboration aims to improve plant-based fat performance

Posted: 3 June 2020 | | No comments yet

The ingredient innovation company and its collaborators aim to close major gaps in taste, texture and appearance that are said to be critical to the creation of future plant-based foods.

plant-based burger on grill

Motif FoodWorks (Motif), an ingredient innovation company, has announced a research collaboration and license option with the University of Guelph in Ontario, and Dr. Alejandro Marangoni, Tier I Canada Research Chair in Food, Health and Ageing at Guelph. Under this collaboration, Motif will evaluate novel technologies for formulating lipids and fibre-forming ingredients in plant-based meats and dairy products that have the potential to enable taste and texture improvements in these fast-growing categories.

According to Motif, food producers have historically relied on existing ingredients such as coconut oil to replicate the sensory experience of animal-derived fats, but current solutions do not taste, cook or interact with other ingredients like animal fats do. 

Over a 12-month period, Motif will assess a set of technologies that aim to improve animal-free fats to make consumer favourites like plant-based burgers, sausages and cheese more appealing, including:

  • Replacing saturated fat with an animal-free emulsion system that exhibits the physical properties of saturated fat at room temperature
  • Replicating critical animal fat structures, such as the pockets of fat in meat products that produce marbling
  • Improving the texture of plant-based cheeses, to be more elastic and melt with ease.

Under the evaluation period with the University of Guelph and Marangoni, Motif can exercise options to acquire or license these technologies.

The effort will be led by Stefan Baier, Motif’s Head of Food Science, and Dilek Uzunalioglu, Motif’s Head of Applications, who will evaluate the performance of these technologies across various food forms, including plant-based meat and cheese.

“Creating the right kind of fat structures in plant-based foods is one of the most significant – and exciting – challenges in the category because fat plays such a critical role in what makes some of our favourite food experiences so satisfying,” said Mike Leonard, CTO at Motif FoodWorks. “In our work with Marangoni and the University of Guelph, we will evaluate technologies with the potential to serve as critical new building blocks in plant-based food design.”

“Understanding how to properly structure fat in plant-based food is mission-critical for the food industry,” said Marangoni. “We are excited to work alongside Motif to determine how some of the newest and most exciting technologies will work in new food products to improve the sensory experience of plant-based meat and dairy on a broader scale.”

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