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Meat analogues in demand as consumers seek healthy options, finds study
Wednesday, 16 October, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Consumers looking for healthy, low environmental impact, ethical, cost-effective, and new food products are generating renewed interest in meat analogues. This was among the findings of PreScouter’s report, titled Meat Alternatives-2019.

The team that prepared it included Gareth Armanious, senior project architect; Gloria Wada, project architect, and Bezalel Adainoo, researcher. They found that high-moisture extrusion cooking enabled the production of fresh, premium meat analogues that were texturally similar to muscle meat. The report added that the appearance and eating sensation was similar to cooked meat, while high protein content offered a similar nutritional value.

With technologies such as 3D printing, cellular agriculture and high moisture extrusion cooking, it seemed that the stage was set for enabling the creation of high-quality meat mimetics. However, there is an uncertainty in the predicted market value for plant-based and lab-made meat.

The report explored the current state of meat alternatives through examples of commercially available products as well as academic developments. The focus was on three types of meat alternatives, viz., plant-based meat analogues, 3D printed meat analogues, and cellular agriculture.

Plant-based protein
Rede?ne Meat, Novameat, Field Roast Grain Meat Co, Impossible Foods, and Beyond Meat are all examples of companies pushing towards creating plant-based meat analogues. Investigating the ingredients behind these meat alternatives provides insight into the landscape of protein sources being used in the industry.

It is interesting to note that none of the companies reviewed use a single-source plant protein solution, with pea protein being present in every ingredient list except for that of Impossible Foods.

For plant protein producers this may open up an additional market for certain plant proteins with more favourable textural, nutritive, and processing properties allowing the ability to achieve the desired appearance and feel.

3D printed plant proteins
Within the plant-based meat alternatives arena, one witnesses 3D printing in?ltrate, and there are claims that 3D printing can greatly bene?t the meat alternative industry and enable the production of a new meat category. Two companies expanding the boundaries in this arena are Rede?ne Meat and Novameat.

This process and technology is still in development, without a large-scale commercial 3D printed alternative available. 3D printing aims to combine proprietary 3D printing technology, digital modelling, and plant-based food formulations. The goal of 3D printers being able to mimic the muscle ?bres found in traditional meat as well as the way that fat and water is trapped in the meat matrix has yet to be realised.

Cellular agriculture
Cellular agriculture presents one area with a large potential for growth. Using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic biology, cellular agriculture is paving the way to create and design new methods of producing proteins, fats, and tissues that would otherwise come from traditional agriculture.

Optimising cellular agriculture of lab-grown real meat produced from cell cultures has potential to generate signi?cantly less greenhouse gas emissions, while using far less land, and less water than livestock meat. If these aims can be met at scale, cellular agriculture could help protect our planet from climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss.

The ultimate goal of cellular agriculture in this case is to produce meat that is the same as livestock meat, but does not require animals to be slaughtered. Perhaps most appealing to those vegan and vegetarian consumers looking for ethically-sourced protein is the bene?t to animal welfare that cellular agriculture offers.

Interest in plant-based meat analogues and lab-grown meat alternatives is booming. A recent market analysis report cited rising meat consumption and a growing population, leading to a forecast increase in meat alternative market share from one per cent today to an equivalent of 10 per cent in 2019 of today’s $1.4-trillion meat market.

PreScouter investigated the current state of meat alternative space by identifying key drivers and technologies in place, in addition to examples of commercially-available products and academic developments. It covered process and product-related aspects, including ingredients and structure formation, nutritional value, post-extrusion processing, consumer bene?ts, and product-related environmental impacts.
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