Collaborating with its customers, Salt of the Earth’s R&D department yielded a 25-35% sodium reduction across a variety of vegan and vegetarian products using its Mediterranean vegetable umami extract, which combines sea salt with tomato concentrates, mushroom and seaweed extracts using a proprietary process.
The company will be displaying dishes prepared using this ingredient at the IFT show in Las Vegas next week.
“Formulating meat-alternatives is complex—it takes multiple technologies to replicate authentic flavors and textures,” according to the company. “To counter common off flavors from plant protein, it is common to add a significant amount of salt—1.2-2.5%—plus spices and flavors.”
Salt of the Earth claimed that formulating meat substitutes using its Mediterranean Umami ingredient enables food manufacturers to meet hot demands such as clean label, plant-based, and rich in umami flavor, with a significant reduction of salt.
An uptick in meat substitute demand
Many products within the meat alternative category, including refrigerated meatless nuggets, strips, and cutlets, experienced triple-digit growth in the natural channel in the year to June 12, 2016, according to market data by SPINS. Additionally, frozen meatless grounds were up 55% and frozen meatless meatball were up 15%.
Globally, there is increased consumer concern over sustainability and the global food chain, and vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are filtering into the mainstream. Data from Innova Market Insights revealed that the US market recorded a growth of 8.7% CAGR in meat substitute product launches in the period between 2011 and 2016.
The plant-based meat category has garnered attention beyond start-ups—food industry giants such as Unilever, Givaudan, and Ingredion joined Wageningen University researchers in the Plant Meat Matters consortium earlier this year to research shear-cell technology, which transforms vegetable protein into a layered, fibrous structure that closely resembles steak. The first products are expected to hit shelves in 2019.