How to create standout meat alternative flavours

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As the plant-based meat alternative market continues to grow, we explore how to create differentiating flavour experiences using highly impactful molecules.

What are they?

This category is made up of products that effectively mimic meat. They fall into four main categories:

  • Grain-based – Seitan
  • Vegetable or fruit-based – Legumes/pea/jackfruit
  • Soy-based – Tofu
  • Single Cell – Mycoprotein (e.g. Quorn)

They each face formulation challenges, one of which being that none of them taste like meat.

How can you make them taste like real meat?

This is a notable challenge, and overcoming it takes an understanding of how flavour is created in meat.

Raw meat is metallic, bloody, and bland. The cooking process causes a cascade of reactions between the lean meat and the fat components. This process generates thousands of flavour molecules that result in the cooked meat now tasting savoury, rich, and roasted.

There are three main reactions taking place as meat is cooked:

  • Maillard reactions between proteins and sugars create savoury flavours, along with key sulphur compounds
  • Lipid degradation is the breakdown of intracellular fats and results in the all-important fatty aromas
  • Thiamine degradation results in the breakdown of vitamin B1 to create alternate sulphur compounds, which gives us the intense meaty, cooked, earthy notes

These reactions either happen in a minor way, or don’t happen at all, in plant-based proteins. Our challenge is to recreate them effectively, efficiently, and at the right cost.

It requires a large palette of savoury, meaty, brothy, burnt notes that are all imparted by specific molecules and interactions between molecules.

We know that the Maillard reaction is key, and this can be reproduced in a lab, but only represents half the pieces of the overall puzzle.

Our expert team has developed a portfolio of more than 300 molecules that represent the key components that are developed when cooking meat. They have been created and curated in partnership with Endeavour Speciality Chemicals over the past 30 years and seamlessly answer the challenges faced by those developing products in the meat alternative space.

They are proven to be highly effective in:

  • Enhancing the flavour of meat where desirable traits are lost during commercial processing
  • Adding meatiness and creating impactful, full-bodied flavours for traditional meat flavoured, meat alternative products
  • Replacing what’s missing when a meat alternative is cooked, and those all-important reactions aren’t occurring

What makes us unique?

We are the only independent European manufacturer and supplier of highly sought-after speciality top notes. As such, we are the trusted partner for the top F&F houses in the industry, seamlessly fitting into their R&D process by supplying the differentiating ingredient in their unique flavour systems.

Experience it for yourself

Book a product demonstration with our highly experienced team HERE.

Our Aroma, Natural and High Impact Chemicals Category Manager, Dr. Brian Surgenor, will be attending Food Ingredients Europe next week. Book a meeting with him in person to discuss your requirements HERE