Baker Perkins steps up vegetable protein technology

06 April 2020

Baker Perkins

UK-based food processing equipment company Baker Perkins has developed a twin-screw extrusion technology to process high moisture-fibrated, texturized vegetable protein (TVP) in various forms. Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Keith Graham, Business Development Manager, highlights the increased demand for plant-based foods from consumers, which is being driven by health and environmental concerns, as well as animal welfare considerations.

“Consumers are increasing their intake of plant-based foods, however, most of these people still enjoy eating meat and a total vegan diet is a cultural step too far,” Graham states. “The TVP process turns plants into familiar, recognizable substitutes, reducing the stress of transition to a totally plant-based diet or one with a higher plant ratio.”

TVP is used both as a meat extender and as a substitute. Meat-free TVP products are welcomed by consumer groups choosing to reduce or eliminate meat consumption, including those following vegan and vegetarian diets for ethical reasons; growth in this market has been accelerated significantly by consumers eating less meat.

As TVP develops, the choice and quality of meat alternatives will increase with inevitable growth in the plant-based sector, he notes, stressing that the demand for plant-based has not yet peaked. “Many dietary trends in recent years have been based on fashion rather than substantiated science. Those currently driven by health and the environment are backed by well proven science. The movement away from meat is certainly long term,” Graham says.  “We anticipate continuous improvements in the appearance, taste and texture of TVP from a range of different protein sources. Any protein source – such as seaweed and algae, for example – can potentially be turned into a meat analog and this is the focus for future development,” he explains.

The biggest challenges in replicating meat are appearance, aroma, taste and texture, of course, he highlights. “Products have to look ‘real,’” states Graham. They must have an aroma and taste close to the original – achieved by flavorings, sauces, seasonings and spices. “A firm, meaty texture is essential if the customer is not to be disappointed,” he adds.

The company offers standard recipes utilizing a variety of different proteins including soy, pea and wheat; beans, lentils and other pulses can also be used. Baker Perkins will investigate the use of any protein, either for High Moisture Extrusion Cooking (HMEC) – commonly used for burger, ground/minced meat and chicken piece substitutes; or for Low Moisture Extrusion Cooking (LMEC) – typically for sausages, meatballs and chicken nuggets.

The taste of soy and other proteins differs from foods we are used to eating, he stresses. “People are reluctant to accept change – although perhaps more likely to persist with an environmental or health driver.” HMEC is a recently developed process offering a much improved fibrous consistency and texture than conventional LMEC. The texture of HMEC extruded TVP convincingly replicates the natural structure, texture and mouth-feel of meat. Baker Perkins applies standard twin-screw extruder technology for the complex HMEC process, with a special dye creating the final product.

“We also develop recipes for customers’ own chosen protein,” Graham continues. “There is full support including initial trials in our Innovation Center, process development, manufacture and equipment commissioning. We take into account taste and flavor profile preferences as well as local ingredient availability,” he comments.

Baker Perkins has marketed twin-screw extruders to produce a wide range of foods and ingredients for over 50 years and was a pioneer in the process. Today’s range of versatile SBX Master extruders provides continuous production at outputs from 250 to 2,300 kg/hour, depending on the product.

The SBX Master Preconditioner mixes, heats and hydrates ingredients for processing in the extruder. Preparing the ingredients in this way increases process flexibility by reducing cooking times and energy input in the extruder, enabling a wider range of products to be made.

Baker Perkins has developed processes and specialist equipment plus a range of reference products. “Our customers can use their own ingredients and develop their own products. We work with them to do this in our innovation center and can access academic institutions and downstream equipment manufacturers for advice,” Graham concludes.

Published by on March 31, 2020 
Image from Shutterstock 


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