Amid question marks around both the organoleptic and nutritional qualities of meat alternatives, Quorn Foods and Roquette want food-tech innovators from around the world to showcase their solutions in mimicking whole cuts of meat and delivering unique gastronomic experiences to the sector.
The task comes via the latest Future Food-Tech innovation challenge which aims to unlock new talent within the industry and enable opportunities for collaboration. Future Food-Tech’s most recent innovation was sponsored by Unilever, which told applicants it was looking for ingredients and processing technologies to improve taste, texture, sustainability and affordability of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, and Kellogg Company, which was looking for products that support digestive wellness. The challenges' respective winners were French start-up 77 Foods, which boasts a patented plant-based fat that closely resembles animal fat both in the pan and in the mouth, and Brazilian company Fibervita, which is developing a proprietary technology at industrial scale to launch an upcycled ingredient portfolio, consisting of sustainable, multifunctional, versatile, healthy, clean label, allergen-, gluten- and GM-free cassava based fibrous ingredients.
Quorn’s challenge: technologies helping to achieve a poultry whole muscle food experience
In the latest innovation challenge (applications are open until May 7 and the winners announced on June 22-23), Quorn Foods, which currently mainly using mycoprotein in its range of meat alternatives, is looking for companies leveraging technology to create realistic poultry whole muscle shapes, textures and flavours. It has told applicants they could be delivering a full product or addressing one of the key challenges associated with creating a whole cut, plant-based experience. The products could be cooked in a range of ways such as in casseroles, grilled or roasted, or could be eaten as a chilled, deli-style product, it said.
Tim Ingmire, SVP R&D at Quorn Foods, told FoodNavigator: “The world needs to eat less meat, and making it easy for people to switch from animal protein to other protein sources such as Quorn is critical. It’s therefore important that the alternative protein industry replicates as many types of meat as possible, and the poultry whole muscle – a very popular source of animal protein – is one that we don’t believe has been successfully replicated yet. Producing something realistic, that is also nutritious and sustainable, makes the task even more challenging.”
He added: "As the original pioneer of alternative protein, and leading global meat-free brand, we recognize the importance of creating delicious, nutritious food that supports the adoption of more sustainable diets. Building on our leading position in chicken analogues we're looking for breakthroughs to allow us to mimic the experience of cooking with whole chicken cuts."
Roquette’s challenge: plant-based products offering new gastronomic experiences to the consumer
French plant protein supplier Roquette, meanwhile, is looking to collaborate and innovate with product companies developing new foods that will contribute to a new plant-based gastronomy.
These new cuisines will offer new tastes, textures and whole new gastronomic experiences, using plant-based ingredients that are better for people and for the planet. The company, which last year signed a three-year pea protein supply deal with US-based Beyond Meat, added it looks forward to seeing a dazzling array of new cuisines, and to collaborating with food innovators to help them get to market faster. Categories encompass plant-based meat, dairy, drinks, nutrition and bakery.
Sergio Neves, Head of Open Innovation at Roquette said: “As a key supplier of alternative proteins, we see a tremendous opportunity for a food revolution with plant-based food. To enable this revolution requires a new generation of creative food entrepreneurs in a new food ecosystem. Thanks to this Future Food-Tech challenge, we aim to highlight companies that will create novel and differentiated plant-based food and nutrition products and shape this future food ecosystem.”
‘Any animal-based food will have a convincing plant-based equivalent’
He told FoodNavigator the company foresees a larger use of plant-based protein in numerous and various format and dishes, both in homes and in restaurants.
“Being at the forefront of development of pea protein, Roquette has accompanied the development of numerous and novel plant-based food that have been differentiating from soy-based products. A large part of recent growth in plant-based food is linked to the development of plant-based milk and plant-based burger patties,” he told us
“These new developments will participate to an improved gastronomic experience, when sushi, beef bourguignon, ham, camembert or any other animal-based food will have convincing plant-based equivalents. Whether it is linked to a specific protein, technology, formulation or positioning, any company contributing to differentiated plant-based food can apply.”
Oliver Katz, conference producer at Future Food-Tech, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Quorn Foods and Roquette to launch these Innovation Challenges to stimulate new solutions to the most pressing issues facing today’s food producers, and give start-ups the opportunity to partner with corporate leaders to scale their innovations. I can’t wait to learn about new solutions from ambitious innovators and how they propose to tackle two major challenges facing the future of food.”