Meatless alternatives and meat analogs have been entering the market for many years. However, the consumer base for these types of products has evolved. In the past, the market for meatless products was mainly driven by pure vegetarians. Over the years, lifestyle changes and growing demand for healthier food alternatives has non vegetarian consumers incorporating meatless products into their diets – making the meatless alternative industry a booming one.
Meatless products are no longer found only in natural food stores. Traditional grocery stores are carrying these healthy, meatless items. Walk through the refrigerated section of any grocery store and you will likely see a diverse assortment of meatless alternatives and meat analogs and in exotic flavors for consumers to choose from. Take for example, meatless citrus glazed chicken with roast vegetables or spicy black bean veggie burgers. Meatless innovations can be endless.
From soy based products to wheat, the advancement of technology has manufacturers manipulating ingredients to imitate meat in a delicious way.
Extrusion technology is widely utilized in the manufacturing of ingredients for applications in meatless delights. Traditionally, the primary ingredient used in meatless products has been textured vegetable proteins, such as soy, which in many cases resembles ground meat. However, as consumer demand for new products increase, there has been a movement to mimic meat like products true to form such as whole muscle meat. New developments in extrusion on texturization of vegetables and other proteins using high moisture extrusion cooking (HMEC) have allowed manufacturers to create meatless products that mimic closely the texture and consistency of its protein counterparts. Using this technology, manufacturers are able to capitalize on this growing market.
Shannon Hood-Niefer, Vice-President of Innovation and Technology and Manager of the Food Centre’s Extrusion Department, sees many opportunities in HMEC for Saskatchewan agriculture. “The extruder at the Food Centre provides an exciting opportunity to improve the value-added food sector in Saskatchewan,” says Shannon. “Using HMEC technology to utilize Saskatchewan crops and pulses is one way to further develop secondary food processing in Saskatchewan.”
To discuss HMEC applications or how the Food Centre’s extruder can work for your business, contact Shannon Hood-Niefer at (306) 964-1819.
Since the acquisition of the twin screw extruder in 2008, the Food Centre has been successful in exploring the extruder’s capabilities in HMEC. Utilizing non meat ingredients to formulate meat analog, the Food Centre’s Extrusion Team was able to mimic meat texture with better mouth-feel than other meatless products made with textured soy protein already in the marketplace. The Food Centre will be exploring the possibilities of incorporating more Saskatchewan grown crops and pulses in meatless applications.