According to commercial director Gert Jan Gombert, the company, which is preparing to manufacture "several million pieces" of steak in 2018, has achieved a world first.
“I do not know of any real plant-based steaks that are on the market yet, I only know of a few that are in the new product development (NPD) phase. So far, nobody else has been able to replicate beef steak and so it’s very important to be the first.
“Steak is the holy grail of plant-based proteins and we worked against the clock to get this to market. It is ground-breaking in terms of animal welfare and sustainability in getting more meat eaters buying plant proteins.”
Vevira has a portfolio of over 40 products that are sold in 25,000 supermarkets across 23 European countries, with around 40% of the manufacturer’s business coming from private label manufacturing.
The UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco has already said it will stock the Vivera-branded steak in more than 400 of its outlets from 21 May, with additional retail listings in the Netherlands to follow in June this year and in Germany, France and Italy in the second half of 2018.
Made of around 80% wheat and soy with natural texturisers, colours and flavours, the steak is a source of vitamin B12, iron and fibre (3.8 g per 100 g), and can claim to be high in protein (17 g per 100 g).
“We would say it is a rather clean product, but we use two functional e-numbers,” Gombert told FoodNavigator, adding that all could be labelled as natural.
What’s on the ingredient list?
Rehydrated soya and wheat protein (81%), coconut oil, sunflower oil, thickener (methyl cellulose), natural flavourings, colours (beetroot red, safflower), vegetable fibres, wheat starch, maltodextrin, sea salt, potato protein, herbs and spices, barley malt extract, acidity regulator (citric acid), vitamins and minerals (iron, vitamin B12).
Many meat analogues use high pressure extrusion to create a meaty-like texture while a Wageningen University research project backed by Givaudan, Unilever and Ingredion is investing in fine-tuning Couette Cell technology.
Gombert said Vivera uses neither of these production processes, achieving a steak-like texture through a combination of ingredients and processing.
“Bite and a steak-like structure were the most challenging aspects to replicate. It needs to have some pressure against the teeth as well as a juiciness. We spent a lot of time to get the juiciness that flows with beef.”
Without revealing how much it invested in R&D, Gombert said a team of four individuals worked on this project for one and a half years.
The refrigerated product’s texture also holds up well even after being cooked by consumers, the company said.
“It’s not actually difficult to cook. Our steak is one you can’t mess up; everyone can cook it really well, keeping the juices in - unless you cook it for half an hour,” Gombert added.
Along with Alpro, Bonduelle, retailer Albert Heijn and others, Vivera is a founding member of the Green Protein Alliance, a consortium that aims to develop market opportunities for vegetarian proteins.
How can manufacturers 'clean up' the labels of processed plant proteins? Click here to read our interview with senior scientist at the Good Food Institute Liz Specht.