Written by Priyanka Prajapati, Dr Meenakshi Garg and Dr Rajni Chopra
Digilah (Thought Leadership)
Author’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Meat consumption continues to perceive an upward surge as demand is driven by population growth, individual economic gain, and urbanization. However, meat production would have a severe environmental impact and high ecological footprint due to increased land and water resources used during livestock rearing. Moreover, a shift in consumer preference has been observed towards consuming plant-based products due to awareness about health hazards associated with red meat. This created a significant break for food industries to develop a plant-based meat analogue that contains similar textural and nutritional attributes present in meat. According to the report published by Mordor Intelligence, the market for meat substitutes is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.91% up to the year of 2026. The term “meat analogue” is defined as a meat-free food product resembling texture, flavour, haptic experience, and nutritional status to original meat products. The result obtained from life cycle assessment studies depicts that meat analogues could be proved as a sustainable alternative to animal-derived meat as they have considerably lower environmental footprints. Different types of Plant protein currently employed in manufacturing meat alternatives are soy protein, Wheat gluten protein, and pea protein. Many nutritional components like high-quality protein (egg protein and whey protein), vitamin B12, calcium and iron have been incorporated in meat analogues to compete with original meat nutritive value. However, manufacturers have to depend on extensively processed ingredients or/and genetically modified (GMO) material in endeavoring meat-like texture and other sensory characteristics. Leg hemoglobin is a legume protein that carries heme molecule. This molecule is produced from GMO yeast and governs meat analogs’ color, texture, and flavour. Based on the study of Egbert and Borders (2006), the given formulation produced meat analogue having improved sensory qualities.
|2.||Plant- based Protein||(10%-25%)|
|3.||Non textured Protein||(4%-20%)|
Texturization of plant protein is an important step in achieving similar texture, appearance, and taste as like original meat products. Plant-based proteins need several transformational changes to achieve the fibrousness of meat muscles. The native globular shape of plant protein is converted to the linear shape of textured protein by applying different texture profiling techniques (e.g., extrusion technique, electro-spinning, proteins hydrocolloid blends, high temperature conical simple shearing, freeze structuring, and 3D Bio-printing). The standard method of modifying plant proteins are electro-spinning and extrusion. Electro-Spinning produces thin fibers of plant protein by using a blend of protein solutions assembled into meat analogues through binding materials. Due to its complexity and high manufacturing cost, this method was not suitable for large-scale production.
The extrusion technique is predominant because of its robustness and versatility to produce different kinds of products. This technique involves modifying the protein configuration by undergoing several changes in its structure like (denaturation, unfolding, crosslinking, and alignment). The viscoelastic mass of plant protein is extruded in one or twin-screw extruders and involves various operational steps like (compression, shearing, heating, and cooling) to impart meatiness. This process offers several advantages like high product yield, affordability, and is energy efficient.
Bio-printing and freeze structuring are some of the emerging techniques to modify plant protein’s structure. Bio-printing is also known as 3D printing, which involves digital modeling of food formulation. Paste of Plant protein is filled in the cartilage that builds the structure of meat analogue. The major drawback faced by the Bio-printing technique is its high cost of production, complexity in spatial structure, and scalability. On the other hand, freeze structuring produces meat analogues that mimic the original meat product by freezing the protein solution, followed by the formation of ice crystals that produce porous, well-aligned and interconnected fibers of plant-based protein.
The primary requisite of a plant-based meat analogue is the proper textural profiling which mimics the texture of muscles fibre and is responsible for the characteristic meaty flavour. The intended applications of meat analogue and type of plant protein determine the technique used for texture profiling. The ongoing research has already overcome many challenges of meat analogues products like (improving microstructure, taste, and healthiness) and affordable product price and increased product convenience. However, certain technological barriers and devoid of regulatory measures are some of the sectors that need improvement.
- Boukid, Fatma. (2021). Plant-based meat analogues: from niche to mainstream. European Food Research and Technology. 247. 10.1007/s00217-020-03630-9.
- Kyriakopoulou, K., Dekkers, B. and Van der Goot, A.Z. Plant-Based Meat Analogues. Sustainable Meat Production and Processing, Chapter-6, 103–126. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-814874-7.00006-7
- Sun, C., Ge, J., He, J., Gan, R., & Fang, Y. (2020). Processing, Quality, Safety, and Acceptance of Meat Analogue Products. Engineering.7(5): 674-678
- Mordor Intelligence, Meat substitutes market – growth, trend and forecast (2021 – 2026). https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/meat-substitutes-market
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