“As the plant-based meat area continues to really take hold … there are still some plant-based products out there that are a little bit mushy,” lack the depth of flavor or same color as the animal proteins they are mimicking, Christopher Naese, VP of business development at FFP, told FoodNavigator-USA. He added some also have “ingredient decks that are really busy,” which can be a turn off for some consumers.
But, he said, FFP’s new Veg Stable Plus rice bran extraction and new fermented mushroom juice can help manufacturers address all these issues, while also improving ingredient decks, yield, taste and texture of animal proteins, as well.
Veg Stable Plus offers ‘fascinating alternative’ to undesirable ingredients
FFP’s Veg Stable Plus “is a natural, fascinating alternative” to several undesirable ingredients in plant- and animal-based proteins, including phosphates, autolyzed yeast and others, Naese said.
He explained that the patent-pending ingredient is a simple, refined extraction of rice bran that when added to plant-based meat changes the way plant-based proteins hydrate and interact to create a firmer bite and texture more akin to animal protein.
“It is not like a starch or a binder, but rather functionally changes the plant-proteins to create a gelling reaction or almost a stickiness in the matrix that creates a low resistance when you bite into the product,” Naese said, adding that FFP is working with a food lab in Saskatchewan to more finely pinpoint how the ingredient works.
The new ingredient joins FFP’s existing line of Veg Stable minimally processed, all natural powder ingredients that eliminate the need for synthetic meat ingredients. A blend of label-friendly ingredients like celery, acerola cherries and Swiss chard, Veg Stable reduces the need for sodium nitrite, chemical-based accelerators and stabilizers, and promotes color stability and antimicrobial benefits.
On the animal protein side, Veg Stable Plus “is a great replacement for phosphate for yield enhancement,” managing fat oxidation and sliceability, Naese said.
He explained the ingredient does this by helping to maintain moisture during the cooking process, which typically can reduce product weight through dehydration, or cause the product to shred when sliced, resulting in lost product.
“If you start with 100% and go through the cooking, slicing and packaging process and you don’t add this material or phosphate, you may end up with literally 70% yield. So, you’ve lost 30% of the weight you started with, which is quite costly. So, by adding Veg Stable Plus, you could get that number to lets say 85% or 90%, which would be 15% better,” he said.
He added that the extent of protection depends on the ingredient and processes applied.
Fermented mushroom juice rises “as the star”
While FFP has been building out its fermented juice line for a few years, Naese said the addition of mushroom “has really come out as the star” because it offers functional and taste benefits.
“The fermented mushroom juice has a really high potency in terms of umami and so it creates this really nice mouthwatering component that you can use in anything from a cooking stock to a plant-based meat … without resorting to autolyzed yeast or a [hydrolyzed vegetable protein],” Naese said, adding it also doesn't takes too strongly of mushroom.
He explained that fermentation “really enhances what mushrooms already are known for,” plus it adds consumer appeal because fermentation is associated with health benefits, he said.
For plant-based meats, the juice also turns the cooked products “a little more gray-brown, which is more representative of what a cooked burger would look like,” which allows manufacturers to remove some ingredients from labels that have been criticized by some as too long and full of unfamiliar terms, he said.
Another benefit of the fermented mushroom juice is that sourcing and processing the mushrooms is all done domestically, which provides an added layer of supply chain protection during the ongoing pandemic that has caused delays in shipping internationally, Naese said.