Hydrosol opens Competence Centre as plant-based alternatives to meat go mainstream
The company has brought together all of its expertise into a creative pool at its HQ in Ahrensburg, Germany, ‘blazing a trail for tomorrow’s nutrition’.
“In our stabilising and texturing system concepts we have long combined market trend knowledge with scientific and technological understanding,” said Dr Matthias Moser, MD, Hydrosol.
“Our Plant-based Competence Center is a seedbed for innovative food concepts with high future potential, as well as a dialogue platform for our customers.”
Hydrosol noted the potential of plant-based foods in 2014 when it marketed the first functional systems for making plant-based alternatives to cheese and sausage.
Since then it has expanded its portfolio and produces stabiliser systems for dairy products, ice cream and desserts, delicatessen foods, ready meals, meat, sausage and fish and vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products.
The Competence Centre comprises product managers, nutritionists, and food technologists to develop creative concepts to address trends in international markets.
Vegan products are getting more and more retail shelf space and are the basis for new concepts in the out-of-home market.
According to Innova Market Insights, products marked “plant-based” and “100% plant-based” have experienced annual growth of 60% in the last few years and this is set to continue in the trend category of snacking.
The reason for the steadily rising demand for vegan products is a cultural shift in eating habits, says Innova Market Insights, as consumers pay more attention to what they buy.
They are paying more attention not only to their own health, but issues like sustainability, animal welfare and climate change.
New protein sources play a key role in the development of plant-based alternatives said Dr Dorotea Pein, director, product management, Hydrosol.
She said the success of a plant-based product depends to a large degree on how close it comes to meat products in taste and texture.
Consumers will accept alternative products only if they possess the accustomed characteristics of the meat products they replace. In other words, plant-based yes, as long as it looks and tastes like animal-based. This is not anticipated to change substantially in the foreseeable future.
“A detailed knowledge of the available protein sources is essential. Not only are more and more vegan foods available, there is a wider range of plant proteins to choose from. In addition to soy there is now a multitude of other options, from sources like peas, rice and coconut to newcomers like sunflowers and rapeseed. But not every protein is suited to every application,” added Pein.
When characterising a new protein, Hydrosol first tests its sensory and rheological properties. Other criteria are; microbiological count, allergenic potential, compliance with hygienic standards, certified processes, price and availability.
If the protein meets all these criteria, it goes into testing.
“We’ve done hundreds of application tests and have built up a solid and growing database on the characteristics of different proteins. This wealth of experience is the foundation of our new Plant-based Competence Center,” said Pein.
“There, we advise customers on the ideal choice of proteins, and trends, flavouring and nutritional enrichment. We work closely with our sister companies to supply stabilisation and texturing while addressing other aspects like the ideal micronutrient profile and trending flavour combinations.
“Our goal is to deliver concepts with added value. This is important in view of the growing world population, as the future supply of safe, affordable, appetising foods is one of if not the central challenge of our time.”