Industry shift: Anuga FoodTec 2022 includes a...
Industry shift

Anuga FoodTec 2022 includes alt protein industry

Anuga FoodTec
Especially in the case of plant-based material much more variety is required in the shaping of vegan and vegetarian convenience products.
Especially in the case of plant-based material much more variety is required in the shaping of vegan and vegetarian convenience products.

The international supplier fair for the food and beverage industry not only covers a wide range of solutions for the production of plant-based meat alternatives but also takes a look at a future in which insects and cultured meat are to ensure greater sustainability.

Gone are the days when a meal necessarily included meat. This concludes a joint survey by the nutrition organisation ProVeg, Innova Market Insights, the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University, which finds a clear shift toward a plant-based diet across Europe. The survey, conducted as part of the Smart Protein research project, found that 46% of European consumers have significantly reduced their meat consumption in 2019. Germany came in second behind Romania with 51%. Matthias Rohra, Managing Director of ProVeg, confirms: "Our diet is changing at great speed, and the demand for innovative protein alternatives is increasing. Germany has the potential to become a centre of innovation, and we need to make use of it."

The innovation drivers as guests in Cologne

Anuga FoodTec 2022 will show how this potential can be tapped for the food industry. In addition to soy, raw materials based on legumes are becoming increasingly important. Katleen Haefele, International Head of Food Services & Events at ProVeg, believes that regional ingredients are particularly popular. "Resource-efficient and local protein sources, such as peas, field beans or lupines, are particularly in demand," says Haefele, confirming the ongoing boom in the market for plant-based alternatives. Algae are also a popular raw material at the moment, she adds. "In order to be able to feed more than ten billion people in 2050, we have to rely heavily on a plant-based supply and invest in new agricultural technologies and cultivated meat products," she says. 

But it is not enough to partially or wholly replace animal protein with alternative proteins. The products must also convince in terms of appearance, mouthfeel and juiciness. This calls for know-how at all levels of production. The focus of the ingredients specialists is primarily on improving the texture, aroma and taste of the new foods. At the same time, the mechanical engineers are optimising the established plant technology and working on new, innovative processes to open up a wider range of vegan and vegetarian products for the manufacturers.

Technology for the entire manufacturing process

Thus, extrusion plays a central role at Anuga FoodTec. Its versatile applicability enables the production of textured proteins from plant-based raw materials to create flavour and texture profiles similar to chicken, pork or beef. The latest trends will be presented in the event zone "advances in food extrusion" on 28 April. For instance, the technology provider from Stuttgart Coperion GmbH offers a twin-screw extruder in a hybrid design to produce such meat substitute products. Thanks to a flexible adapter solution, the discharge can be converted from a die with centric granulation to a cooling die in a very short time - so textured vegetable proteins, meat analogues with high water content and numerous snacks and cereals can be produced on the same line. The textured vegetable protein can be further processed with modern equipment that is also used in traditional meat processing.

From comminution and portioning to packaging: Anuga FoodTec offers solutions for almost every process engineering task. The exhibitors in this segment include market-leading companies such as Maschinenfabrik Seydelmann KG from Stuttgart and Vemag Maschinenbau GmbH from Verden. At the heart of their modular and (partially) automated solutions are not only cutters, mincers, mixers and vacuum fillers but also moulding systems. Especially in the case of meat substitutes based on vegetables or tofu, which can be prepared quickly or eaten as a snack, much more variety is required in the shaping of vegan and vegetarian convenience products.

Albert Handtmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG from Biberach responds to this, for example, with the FS 525 forming and cutting system, which combines two forming principles. With the perforated plate forming technology, freely formed 3D products such as meatballs can be produced. The rotary cutter can be used to produce different cross-sections with a smooth cut for vegetable patties or nuggets. The optional use of a flattening belt with textured rollers further expands the possibilities.

Insects as part of a sustainable future

Experts have been advising people to switch to alternative protein sources, not only to reduce the consumption of classic animal foods or to replace them but also to contribute to greater sustainability. As a cooperation partner of Koelnmesse GmbH, BALPro, the Association for Alternative Protein Sources, will use the Innovation Stage at Anuga FoodTec 2022 to provide information on this aspect. In addition to residual flows from food production, which will be further processed into protein-rich innovative products, insects will also be in the spotlight.

Since the European Novel Food Regulation came into force in 2018, there have been around fifteen test applications for insect-based foods. At the beginning of May 2021, the yellow mealworm became the first insect ever to receive approval as a novel food in the EU - a development welcomed by the BALPro working group "Edible Insects Germany". "Together with partners from science and industry, our working group wants to find starting points that will enable political promotion of the issue surrounding edible insects," explains Marc Schotter, founder of Insnack GmbH, a Berlin-based start-up specialising in the production of insect-based snack snacks. The head of the working group sees another advantage: "Insects can be fed on food waste. In this way, keeping them creates a complete value chain that conserves resources," says Schotter.

Cultured meat and its future prospects

Tapping new sources of protein from plants or insects are two of the options on the path to more sustainable food production. Cellular agriculture goes one step further. To make the vision of "animal products without animals" possible, it creates meat products from animal cells or microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria and fungi. Currently, more than 70 start-ups worldwide are working in the cultured meat sector. But will consumers actually buy the products? "The younger, well-informed ones are very open to it," says Mathilde Alexandre, who coordinates the "CellAg" project at ProVeg International. Cultured meat is still a vision. So far, only chicken nuggets from Eat Just in Singapore are on the market. However, the experts agree that the approvals will come, and the technical challenges will be mastered.

Source: Anuga FoodTec

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