The Challenges of Plant-Based Meat

Nov 22, 2021Categories, Savory

Good Food Conference

Every September, The Good Food Institue (GFI), organizes its Good Foods Conference (GFC) that brings together a unique mix of attendees from all corners of the industry. Journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs, influencers, academics, students and the usual B2B / B2C corporate contingent were all in attendance. Recently, I was invited to participate on a panel discussing the sensory challenges associated with plant-based meat at the Good Food Conference 2021. Continue reading to find out more… 

a panel of people at a conference

These 32 videos uploaded to YouTube cover almost every aspect of the state of the plant-based industry. From consumer insights to ingredient processing, there are moderated panel discussions with four expert contributors that will enlighten your perspective.

What’s After Burgers?

Plant-based beef and chicken products like burgers and nuggets have come a long way in emulating the sensory attributes of their animal standards. But there is still ample white space for innovators to take advantage of the demand for great-tasting alternatives beyond these ‘starter’ formats. What attribute do you find most lacking in products that you’ve tried? Is it the taste? Or the texture? Most consumer research concludes that taste is an attribute that makes or breaks meat analogs…

Just about everyone has tried a plant-based burger. Whether it was the stalwart Boca Burger back in the day or a Beyond Burger in the last year; the latest generation has really turned the dial in delivering beef authenticity. But what other products would you like to see? If plant-based meat is going to be successful, it’s going to need to do more than a burger, sausage or nugget.

Let’s Ride the Fishless Wave

In a previous plant-based blog, we discussed what we expect to see next in the space. But what will face the biggest challenge? During the panel discussion, I was asked just that. And IMO, it’s seafood. From fatty fish like tuna and salmon to leaner white fish, the delicate flavors characteristic of fish are challenging to replicate…same for crustaceans like shrimp, crab and scallops. Assuming you’ve never tried a seafood alternative, what’s your first reaction to the thought? Curiosity? Apprehension? No thanks! Here’s a lineup of the few commercially-available products.

selection of plant-based seafood packages

To Protein or Not to Protein

Whenever I see a new seafood product form like this, I always look to the nutritional label to see if protein is being added. I recently saw a new shrimp producer making noise about their great product and when I checked, they had 0g protein…just starch and gums. This is cheating! At Givaudan, our flavor and application team has worked hard to develop tools to mask base notes from plant proteins like pea and soy. Once the base formula is neutralized, the challenge is then to deliver shrimp flavor with taste, aroma and umami tools. This becomes a straightforward approach of trial-and-error. Here’s a summary of the tools our team has utilized to create a remarkable shrimp.

This diagram shows Givaudan tools: Vegan Flavors, Taste Solutions, Off-Flavor Masking and

I admit I was skeptical when our team started working on plant-based seafood last year. But I’m a skeptic no more. I’ve tried many of the market products and I can confidently say that our varying technologies can and will improve the flavor profiles of these products. If you’re curious and want to try, please reach out and we would love to show off our remarkable taste solutions.



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