Unilever boosts fat release in vegan bacon with new plant tech

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher has upgraded its plant-based bacon product: NoBacon 2.0 Image source: Unilever
Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher has upgraded its plant-based bacon product: NoBacon 2.0 Image source: Unilever

Related tags Unilever The Vegetarian Butcher

Unilever’s plant-based meat brand The Vegetarian Butcher has updated its vegan bacon alternative to better mimic its conventional counterpart.

What began as a plant-based food market dominated by vegan burgers and sausages has now expanded into more complicated cuts. The plant-based bacon category is one example on the rise.

According to Future Market Insights, the vegan bacon market is expected to grow at a robust CAGR of 6.6% between 2022 and 2023.  

But when it comes to bacon, expectations run high, according to Unilever. “The perfect rasher should deliver not only a balanced hit of smoky, salty flavours but also a crispy texture that is neither dry nor chewy.”

Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher, which already sells a NoBacon bacon alternative, has been working to improve its offering to more closely mimic conventional bacon.  

Fat release

NoBacon 2.0 – just like the original NoBacon product – is made from soya and wheat protein. But it is the plant oils in the new product that Unilever has reworked to improve its texture, appearance, and cooking behaviour.

In traditional bacon, fat is rendered during the cooking process, allowing for the meat to be cooked in it. The Vegetarian Butcher’s original NoBacon product did not release any oils during the cooking process, meaning additional fat had to be added to pan.

Recently developed patented food technology however now enables for oil droplets to the NoBacon product, which The Vegetarian Butcher claims increases fat release to 20 times that of previous versions. The result is that the product can be fried without any additional fat to create a ‘crispy rasher’ and ‘appetising smell’.

bacon fat SolStock
Unilever has developed new plant fat technology to improve the cooking experience of its vegan bacon product. GettyImages/SolStock

With new fat tissue technology, the business is working to counteract poor textural attributes known within the category. Plant-based products are often described as ‘chewy’ or ‘dry’, explained The Vegetarian Butcher.

But thanks to the new fat tissue tech, made from a ‘careful combination’ of plant-based ingredients, the new NoBacon strips can be ‘easily’ separated when raw, and ‘crisp up’ better when cooked.

Translucent fat, just like bacon

NoBacon 2.0 has also been developed to react to heat in a similar way to traditional animal-based meat, to improve the consumer cooking behaviour.

“The Vegetarian Butcher’s new fat tissue technology uses a careful selection of plant-based ingredients that make the rashers’ ‘fat’ become translucent while cooking, just like their animal based counterparts,” ​explained the company.

NoBacon 2.0 is currently available in the Netherlands only.

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