Meatless alternatives for the mass market


New vegan nuggets: enjoyment meets convenience

The boom in vegan meat substitutes continues. A study by market research institute Mintel shows that the greatest growth is among flexitarians who are reducing their consumption of meat.

According to the study, last year 18% of Germans ate more meat alternatives than the previous year.

Mintel talks of a paradigm change, as niche vegetarians turn into mass-market flexitarians, and the market potential for meat alternative products is correspondingly high.

But such products are only successful if their taste and consistency compare favourably with the meat product, and if they offer health benefits and ideally also address the ongoing convenience trend.

Hydrosol has developed a new stabilising and texturing system that lets manufacturers of meat alternatives address the wishes of ever broader target groups. Vegan nuggets suitable for hot consumption are a current example.

What's special about these nuggets is their meat-like texture, which is achieved with the aid of HydroTOP High Gel.

“The system is based on a specific combination of hydrocolloids and fibres that act as emulsifying and stabilising components,” explains Dr Carsten Carstens, Head of Product Development for meat and sausage products at Hydrofoil.

“First an emulsion is made with HydroTOP High Gel 30, oil and water. This stabilises the hydratised texturate through thermoreversible gelling, meaning that heating the formable mass turns it into a product that is pleasantly firm to the bite.”

Treating the texturate with the HydroTOP emulsion creates a formable, slightly sticky meat analogue comparable with a ground meat mass used for meatballs and the like. Thanks to this adhesive property, vegetables with smooth surfaces such as corn or peas can be worked into the mass without problems. The meat substitute mass can be individually seasoned and produced continuously on a conventional line.

HydroTOP High Gel 30 is suitable for all standard commercial wheat, soy and pea protein-based texturates.

“In application, the synergies and interactions between HydroTOP and the protein texturate are used to full effect,” reports Dr Carstens. “High Gel 30 turns the fibrous structure of the texturate into a meat-like structure.”

The vegan nuggets can be pan or deep-fried, and in addition to their texture they offer another clear advantage – they are very declaration-friendly. The products aren’t just vegan, they can also be advertised as free of soy and gluten. Furthermore, they use neither flavour enhancers nor phosphates.

Besides vegan nuggets, manufacturers can use HydroTOP High Gel 30 with the texturates from the Hydrosol Stabiprot series to make many other products. Examples include vegan burgers and patties, as well as vegan schnitzel with breading. All products can be deep-frozen without problems.

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In addition, with High Gel 30 all other formed ground meat, fish, poultry, diced ham and similar products can be made at low cost with excellent quality. The meat and fish products have a firm bite, are juicy, and retain their shape.