Paris-based Umiami claims its expertise can create thicker cuts of substitute meat, thus fixing the feel problem that at present vexes the fake meat market.
Quorn at present makes mycoprotein – the dough-like materials which makes up most of its merchandise – by fermenting a naturally occurring fungus (referred to as Fusarium venenatum). That is fed with oxygen, nitrogen, glucose, and minerals in 40-metre excessive fermenters which run repeatedly for 5 weeks at a time.
Enhancing style and texture challenges to win over new buyers
However the firm needs to look to different proteins and applied sciences to make new merchandise of enchantment to the rising numbers of flexitarian customers who say they need to lower their meat consumption for environmental, well being and moral causes. These newer customers, says Quorn, don’t compromise on flavour, texture and look of those merchandise. The problem to producers due to this fact is to make plant-based merchandise with improved organoleptic and nutritional qualities with a purpose to win over these newer cohorts of meat options eaters.
By way of the newest Future Food-Tech innovation challenge which goals to unlock new expertise within the business and create alternatives for collaboration, Quorn tasked start-ups to make merchandise that may mimic entire meat cuts. “We’re targeted on hen,” mentioned Simone Sheehan, Head of Client and Sensory Science at Quorn. “Everyone knows the flexibleness it provides from having it in a sandwich to the last word roast meal the place household and associates can come collectively. What we would like to have the ability to give customers is an incredible meals expertise that isn’t a compromise. We wish to have the ability to supply a plant-based expertise that replicates what customers can get from hen in the present day to allow them to make that transition to plant-based simple. We need to work with innovators to have the ability to create replicas of entire muscle expertise: the feel, the flavour, the aromas by way of into the meat-free sector.”
The profitable pitch was Umimai’s. The younger firm – which started life as an thought amongst three associates at a Paris engineering and science college — is bringing to the desk what it calls new era texturization expertise to ‘create the world’s first plant-based entire hen and cod cuts at scale’.
“Virtually all firms within the plant-based area at present use the identical excessive moisture extrusion [HME] expertise to create the lengthy fibres of meat,” defined co-founder Martin Habfast.
The boundaries of HME
HME – the place plant proteins are heated in a twin-screw extruder then cooled in a exactly thermal-controlled dye resulting in the formation of fibers — is nice for making quite a few aligned fibres which could be lower and flavoured to create, for instance, a small substitute hen piece. But it surely isn’t an effective way to create huge blocks and entire meat lower functions akin to a hen breast, in line with Habfast. “With HME, you’re restricted to merchandise of 1 or 1.5cm in dimension due to the thickness of the cooling dye,” he mentioned. “You’re additionally restricted when it comes to water and fats content material. That’s an issue if you wish to re-create plant-based fish or meats which have extra fats content material.” He added: “The flavours additionally solely are usually on the floor of the product. In the event you put them at first of the texturization course of they get burnt within the extruder. They’re normally added afterwards so they continue to be on the floor and the centre of the product is apparent.”
Umiami’s answer is proprietary expertise that differs from typical extrusion by limiting the variety of processing steps to create thick and fibrous entire items of plant meat with out texturing brokers.
Whereas HME creates solely horizontal or V-shaped fibres, the start-up’s course of creates horizontal, diagonal or vertical fibres that means, it says, permitting it to raised replicate the feel of actual meat.
‘A novel different to the extrusion approach utilized by nearly all plant-based meat producers’
“To the perfect of our information we’re the one firm on this planet utilizing our course of,” he mentioned. “We will rise up to eight cm of thickness, 5 occasions what HME can do. we even have extra room to play with when it comes to water and fats content material.
“We primarily use soy, however our course of works with any protein, so our plant-based hen nuggets are pea-based. Our course of mainly consists of making aligned fibers out of plant proteins. By controlling the path of the fibers, the thickness of the product, the water and fats content material, and the flavoring, we will create a really wide selection of whole-cuts.”
Umiami additionally says its expertise doesn’t require the addition of texturing brokers akin to methylcellulose and gums. By comparability, an extruded nugget usually requires 30 to 40 further substances, together with many texturing brokers, whereas Umiami makes use of about ten. “We all know that buyers are more and more delicate to the substances utilized by the business,” mentioned Habfast.
Quorn will now present sources and assist akin to analysis and client understanding functionality to the Parisian start-up. “Umiami’s thought stood out as a consequence of their deal with technical options that tackle the important thing consumer-innovation challenges round entire cuts. We look ahead to collaborating with Umiami to actually delight customers,” mentioned Sheehan.
“The expertise they’ve developed and their skill to actually replicate that entire muscle expertise to provide that succulency is basically thrilling.”
€2.3m fund increase
Buyers clearly agree. The corporate, which was formally launched in Might 2020 with the assist of AgroParisTech and the Technical College of Munich, has simply raised €2.3m to develop its pilot manufacturing website. This could begin in early 2022 within the Paris area with a capability of 100 tonnes per 12 months. The corporate has opted for a white-label advertising technique on behalf of specialty manufacturers, non-public labels and the foodservice business. Discussions are at present underway with some forty potential companions.
To accompany its scaling up, Umiami has recruited Guillaume Feneyrou, who spent greater than 20 years at Nestlé, as Industrial Director. The primary product vary contains hen breasts, cod and nuggets. The capital increase will even permit Umiami to proceed its R&D efforts to develop its product vary, it mentioned.