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Plant-Based Future: New Solutions for Tomorrow’s Nutrition

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The market share of plant-based alternatives is estimated to increase five-fold, from around two percent in 2020 to a good ten percent in 2035. Thanks to new technologies and intensive research and development, the number of new products is increasing at a breathtaking pace.

Planteneers is also seeing this. This specialist for plant-based alternatives has become a key player in the rapidly expanding plant-based market in just three years. Its portfolio has multiplied quickly, from functional systems for sausage, cold cut, and ground meat alternatives at the start of the plant-based era to a diverse portfolio from which customers today can make entire product lines in various categories. The choices range from plant-based alternatives to meat, sausage, and fish products, to cheese, dairy products, and deli foods. “The challenge is that we are the pathfinders for the trends,” comments Dr. Dorotea Pein, Director Food Trends and Innovations at Planteneers. “Our customers expect us to have solutions for the trends of tomorrow, today. This means we are constantly working with new ingredients and applications to develop these innovations and be able to respond early in all cases.”

One example is functional systems for fish alternatives. “These alternatives have just recently made enormous strides in appearance and flavor,” notes Dr. Pein. “With our fiildFish compounds, we cover the gamut, from classics like smoked salmon alternatives for eating cold, to hot foods like salmon filet and shrimp alternatives.” According to Dr. Pein, one highlight in the meat category is the development of products traditionally associated with haute cuisine, like alternatives to beef tartare and carpaccio. “These two examples alone show the direction the market is taking. Diversification is advancing farther and farther.” The cheese category confirms this. Using the numerous functional systems in Planteneers’ fiildDairy series, customers can develop a wide range of plant-based cheese alternatives, with systems for plant-based alternatives to cream cheese, feta, pizza cheese, block cheese in slices and blocks, and processed cheese preparations. Among the latest developments are plant-based alternatives to high-sales classics like cheddar and parmesan.

New Ingredients as Growth Engine

Alongside new products, new ingredients also offer growth potential, especially mycoproteins and cellular agriculture. According to the world nutrition organization FAO, the worldwide meat market volume of 360 million tons in 2022 will rise to 455 million tons by 2050. In this scenario, alternative products are more and more important. Mycoprotein plays an important role for several different reasons. It has many advantages, from the production process to health to sustainability and zero waste. “Mycoprotein already has a certain structure, but the flavor and color are neutral,” says Dr. Pein. “Health benefits are another aspect. For example, it has been scientifically demonstrated that mycoprotein has a high satiating effect, and furthermore boosts muscle growth, which is very important in senior nutrition.” Cholesterol and blood sugar regulating effects have likewise been proven. Mycoprotein also has a very good nutritional profile, being high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and fat.

Another plus point is its sustainable, environment-friendly production by means of fermentation, which is done in a nutrient medium with a raw material containing carbon, for example leftovers from sugar beet processing. These plant residues are inoculated with a mycelium culture and fermented. This is a great way to make use of waste streams. “In recent months we did our first application tests of mycoprotein in plant-based alternatives to meat, fish, and dairy products,” reports Dr. Pein. “The results were impressive.” Based on this experience, Planteneers is currently making prototypes of the various final products in order to present them to interested customers.

“Cultivated Meat Has Disruptive Potential”

Alongside plant-based alternatives and proteins made through fermentation, there is also an increased focus on cultured meat, also known as in-vitro meat. The main drivers here are the challenge of feeding a growing world population, climate and environmental protection, and animal welfare. “Both vegan meat substitutes and cultured meat have disruptive potential,” explains Katharina Schäfer, Team Lead Product Management at Planteneers’ sister company Hydrosol. For her dissertation, she is studying the opportunities for meat from cultured cells as well as the challenges this new protein generation must overcome. “It’s easy to get the texture, fibrousness, frying behavior, and mouthfeel close to conventional meat products,” says Schäfer. “For cost reasons, most companies will start by taking hybrid products to market, i.e. combinations of cultured and plant-based proteins. That will make it possible to improve the nutritional profiles of these foods.” The composition of cultured products can be adjusted flexibly. “For example, it might be possible to configure the production of cultured fat in such a way that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, to create a healthier product,” explains Schäfer.

The Plantbaser: Develop Plant-Based Foods in 20 Minutes

With the Plantbaser Planteneers offers product development of a different kind. This digital product configurator provides users with new inspirations at a completely new rate of speed. From idea to finished product takes just two weeks. Users can put together their desired product in 15 to 20 minutes, with no dedicated plant-based knowledge needed. Whether alternatives to fermented milk products, fish, meat, or cheese products, in two weeks test samples are ready to taste. With over 1300 recipes, the Plantbaser offers the world’s largest selection of plant-based products in multiple categories. The next category, baked goods, will be ready soon.

Networked Collaboration Creates Added Value for Customers

Whether plant-based alternatives, new protein sources, or innovative technologies, the Plant Based Competence Center is a seedbed for future-forward food concepts.  Here, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe bundles the assembled knowledge of its various subsidiaries in a creative pool. With Planteneers, SternEnzym, Sternchemie, SternVitamin, and OlbrichtArom, customers get complete plant-based solutions for every requirement and every market. Product managers, nutritionists, food technologists, and marketing specialists from all these companies develop creative concepts aligned with the trends on international markets.

For the North American market, Planteneers is investing in closer customer proximity with the opening of a new office in Aurora, Illinois. Here Gretchen Moon, Vice President of Commercial Operations for North America, and her team focus on American customers’ special wishes and expectations. In September, companies met the team and checked out their product highlights in person at the Plant Based World Expo in New York City. Planteneers presented popular products from its line-up, including functional systems for making plant-based alternatives to steak, salmon, chicken, salami, mortadella, snack sticks, parmesan, feta, and cheddar.

As a global sponsor of Plant Based World Expo, Planteneers also offered other platforms for discussion and new ideas at the show, like the Culinary Experience Show in the Culinary Theatre and a Plant-Based Foods Association afterparty.

The next stops in Europe are the Plant Based World Expo in London and the FIE in Frankfurt in November. Show visitors are heartily invited to these events and to tastings at the Planteneers Booth.