Ojah unveils vegan ribs after six years of product development

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Ojah
Pic: Ojah

Related tags Plant-based foods plant protein plant-based plant-based protein vegan

Plant-based ingredients producer Ojah will launch vegan ribs in December following six years of product development.

The ribs are made with Ojah’s newly developed texture, called Heppi, a yellow pea-based high moisture extruded (HME) texture that the Dutch company says delivers the bite, mouthfeel and juiciness of meat that carnivores appreciate. According to Ojah, Heppi is 100% plant-based, gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and with a protein content of 25%, making it ideal for consumers who want to reduce their meat intake but still want a meat-like experience.

The ingredients consist of pea-protein, water, sunflower oil, natural flavouring, herbs and spices, salt.  

Ojah is the company behind chicken alternative Plenti. “For the past six years, Ojah has been working on extending its high moisture extruded (HME) ingredients portfolio,”​ said Joeri Hollink, Head of Product Development at Ojah. “We were focussed on developing a new texture, based on a different protein source than soya, but with the same WOW-effect as Plenti.”

The Dutch company will premiere the ribs next month at Fi Europe in Paris. Hollink said it will demonstrate how Heppi can be used to mimic pork ribs. Naturally without the bone.

The ribs come as a 'rack' of around 10 ribs. Ojah said they are ideal for grilling on a BBQ or for quickly warming-up in the oven. The ribs are boneless, so can also be served on a bun to create a vegan rib burger. Ojah plans to introduce the ribs in Dutch foodservice outlets first. In the second half of 2020, Ojah plans to expand production capacity and make Heppi available to preferred food manufacturing partners.

The quickly moving plant-based protein market

Ojah’s story is testament to the accelerating plant-based protein market. It was founded in 2009 employing just three people. Today, it has over 45 employees. It started life as an ingredients supplier, with the ingredients brands Beeter and Plenti. Now, the company also uses its expertise to produce finished products for the business-to-business sector.

Since 2011 and 2018, Ojah saw annual growth rate of between 30% and 50%. Last year its founder and CEO Frank Giezen told FoodNavigator: “The growth of our production is only limited by the production capacity. The demand from the market is higher than the capacity that we have at the moment.”

Its ‘Eureka’ moment in meat alternative innovation came when it tested an extrusion method to turn soy meal and water into a substance that has a similar fibre structure as meat. The discovery became the basis for the company. Its products are neutral in taste and colour. They can be shaped and flavoured as desired by to be used manufactures in host of different applications.

Not your typical street food

Another alternative meat company will be unveiling a new innovation at FIE. French company Naturex, part of Givaudan, will be displaying what it calls its authentic, wholesome, and healthful take-away concepts using clean, clear and tasty plant-based ingredients.

Visitors to the Naturex kitchen will be invited to taste mini cup tacos filled with a meat analogue. The texturised vegetable protein filling is flavoured with Givaudan flavours and coloured with Naturex’s range of colouring foodstuffs, giving it both an appealing meaty taste and appearance. For complete nutrition, the addition of its trademarked Ultimine iron, a whole food fermented mineral, provides 15% of the recommended daily value of iron, said the company.  

Made with oat beta-glucan and coloured with vegetable powders, Naturex says the tortillas offer a great nutritional profile with a possible health claim on cholesterol reduction. The tacos also come with a choice of two sauces: a mayo-like sauce that’s been stabilised against oxidation with its trademarked Xtrablend RN, a clean label alternative to EDTA; as well as a passion fruit and jalapeno vegan sauce.

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