Clean meat-free products produced with non-GMO crossbreeding technology
49 percent of US consumers are driven by health concerns when buying meat and dairy alternatives, according to Innova Market Insights’ 2018 consumer survey, and Equinom thinks it has the next big thing.
Seed-breeding specialist start-up Equinom Ltd. is hoping to advance the potential of plant-based meat products. Equinom’s non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds are enabling food companies to respond to consumer demand for cleaner, more affordable meat alternatives.
With the clean-label revolution gaining momentum, the meaning of ‘clean’ has evolved. “Natural products not only need to exclude additives and preservatives, they also must have short, simple ingredient lists,” says Itay Dana, Marketing Director for Equinom.
“Unfortunately, despite the buzz, plant-based meat products don’t necessarily support clean-labeling,” he adds.
Most natural ingredients still require extensive processing to meet consumer demands. However, this over-processing can strip the products of taste and functionality. To achieve palate appeal as well as nutritional and sales objectives, manufacturers tack on masks, flavour enhancers, fillers and highly processed ingredients, such as protein isolates.
“In contrast, Equinom’s seeds for plant ingredients make processing almost irrelevant because our whole beans deliver on taste and nutritional goals that are closer to producers’ needs,” claims Dana. “Equinom’s breeding technology grows better-for-you ingredients that remove the need for over-processing, simplifies ingredient lists and eliminates the need for additives, so producers can go ‘from plant to product’ in fewer steps.”
In the past, texture, taste and nutrition were difficult to find in a single isolated ingredient. This caused food manufacturers to attempt creating flavoursome meat-free burger products from “poorly flavoured” source ingredients.
“Equinom breeds specifically for organoleptic properties, custom-designing plant varieties that have revived great taste, appealing texture and improved nutrition,” explains Sigal Meirovitch, PhD, Head of Protein Development for Equinom. “The company has restored these high-demand qualities naturally in the crops, demonstrating that one plant can have it all.”
By leveraging the whole plant and designating key components to meet food company product development needs, Equinom says it maximises component contribution using minimum separation, which also reduces the need to mask unpleasant tastes. Equinom uses electronic sensing systems such as e-tongue and e-nose for analysis of poor tasting flavours, which aims to produce top quality and accelerate breeding.
To continue pushing the consumer move to meat-free alternatives, affordability is key. Until now, manufacturing nutritious and minimally processed products has been expensive. Locating good tasting ingredients that hit the sweet spot between optimising clean nutrition and profitability, has been considered difficult for manufacturers.
“Since Equinom’s legumes are bred for both high protein and simple protein extraction, ingredient producers can achieve their yield performance goals easier, and food manufacturing costs less,” says Meirovitch. “This is empowering the market to offer more competitively priced products and achieve financially viable market penetration.”
“Equinom is upending the plant-based meat industry – uprooting previously entrenched limitations and delivering seeds for source ingredients that are setting the functional, financial and eco-friendly standards in the market,” Dana concludes.