Creating meat analogues with olive oil to boost sector’s health credentials

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Heura
Image: Heura

Related tags: meat analogue, Olive oil

Plant-based meat brand Heura has discovered a fat analogue using extra virgin olive oil that it claims allows it to launch the ‘world’s healthiest burger’.

The Spanish start-up has introduced a plant-based burger made from an innovative fat analogue that transforms extra virgin olive oil into a solid fat. Heura’s R&D team formulated a solid fat analogue to give the texture and bite of beef from extra virgin olive oil, which is healthier and more sustainable than coconut oil. According to the company, the fat brings the sensorial experience of meat, helps reduce the environmental impact of livestock consumption, and improves cardiovascular health.

Fat analog made with extra virgin olive oil
Fat analog made with extra virgin olive oil

“The biggest challenge facing the plant-based industry was creating a burger with the juiciness of beef without using high amounts of fat,​” Heura CEO Marc Coloma told FoodNavigator. “Our innovation gives juiciness without the problems of saturated fat.”

Heura’s meat-free burger contains over 64% less fat than a traditional beef burger, he claimed. The burger also contains over 85% less saturated fat than beef and has 11.3% more protein per calorie. "Another result of having less fat is that you will have a bigger protein intake. So nutritionally, it’s a more balanced product.” 

Coloma said that until now, the only way to obtain the juiciness of an animal burger in plant-based options has been to use high amounts of fat from oils. “This meant that many plant-based burgers focused only on delivering the sensorial experience of meat, while containing almost the same amount of fat as an animal burger.”

The Heura R&D team found the solution to this problem after over 1,000 trials, and the new burger achieves the perfect balance of ingredients and ambiental factors to offer the meaty and juicy experience of an animal burger with only 6.5 grams of fat.

Lorena Salcedo, New Product Development Manager at Heura explained: “When we visualize the fat from a burger or the coconut oil in the supermarket, they are solid. This is because they both have high contents of saturated fat. We had to reproduce that with an oil that is liquid (monounsaturated) and minimise its use to reduce the amount of fat on the burger. We have analyzed both structures separately, the beef burger one and extra virgin olive oil to get the experience of one from the nutritional values of the other. When you see the essence of what you really need it’s easy to see the most efficient way to get there.”

While the biggest impact is on juiciness, Coloma admitted colour transition, aroma and taste remain a challenge, although extra virgin olive oil notes are masked with flavouring and spices. 

After launching soy-based chicken in 2017, Heura’s latest plant-based burger will launch in November. "This is an innovation we will apply in all of our beef and our pork products,”​ said Coloma. The company – currently present in 3,000 points of sale in Spain, Andorra, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile, and the United Kingdom  – also plans to launch other products using the olive oil-based analogue.

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