Equinom beefs up plant-based meat products

Seed-breeding start-up Equinom is helping food manufacturers to close the gap between consumer demand for cleaner meat alternatives and innovating palate-pleasing, affordable products.

According to Innova Market Insights’ 2018 consumer survey, 49% of US consumers are driven by health when buying meat and dairy alternatives. Plant-based food demand is climbing, with consumers concerned about animal welfare and minimising their carbon footprint.

Simplicity is the new “clean”

Consuemrs are also demanding clean label products with easy-to0understand ingredient lists. “Natural products not only need to exclude additives and preservatives; they also must have short, simple ingredient lists,” said Itay Dana, marketing director for Israel-based Equinom. “Unfortunately, despite the buzz, plant-based meat products don’t necessarily support clean-labeling.”

Most natural ingredients still require extensive processing, and this strips 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 nearly irrelevant because Equinom’s whole beans deliver on taste and nutritional goals that are closer to producers’ needs,” said Dana.

“Equinom’s breeding technology grows better-for-you ingredients that do away with over-processing, simplify ingredient lists and eliminate the need for additives, so producers can go ‘from plant to product’ in fewer steps.”

The missing link

In the past, the triad of texture, taste and nutrition was too much to ask for in a single isolated ingredient. This caused food manufacturers to pursue the impossible: to create taste-bud-pleasing natural meat-free burger products from poorly flavored source ingredients.

Sigal Meirovitch, head of protein development for Equinom said: “Equinom breeds specifically for organoleptic properties, custom-designing plant varieties that have revived great taste, appealing texture and improved nutrition. The company has restored these high-demand qualities naturally in the crops, demonstrating that one plant can have it all.”

Equinom uses electronic sensing systems such as e-tongue and e-nose for high-throughput analysis of off flavors, which helps top quality and accelerate breeding.

The company’s ingredients also make for more affordable products for the consumer.

“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,” said Meirovitch. “This is empowering the market to offer more competitively priced products and achieve financially viable market penetration.”

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