Bühler and DIL combine forces to accelerate next-gen extruded meat substitutes

26 January 2021


Bühler is partnering with German food science researchers at the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) to propel the sustainable production of healthy extruded meat substitutes. These products are targeted for their lower environmental impact than the CO2-heavy meat value chain.

While leveraging Bühler’s expertise in extrusion, the partnership will create a platform to support start-ups, existing customers, and future partners active in this space, according to Christoph Näf, head of business unit human nutrition at Bühler. We continuously try to achieve a better understanding of the structure and functionality of foods, which we consider is the key to innovative solutions for food processing,” says Volker Heinz, director, and CEO of DIL.

Even as the industry grapples with financial volatility throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has seen an influx of investment in the plant-based sphere. Bühler’s new partnership comes at the heels of notable investment moves in Asia’s alternative protein arena. FoodIngredientsFirst has reached out to the organizations for comment on when the first products are expected for market debut and what value these offer manufacturers.

Unlocking texture with advanced extrusion technology

Extrusion is a key technology to unlock the full functionalities of plant-protein. Highly versatile, extrusion enables the formation of texturized proteins with different structures from different raw materials. High moisture extrusion enables the conversion of plant proteins into food products with textures similar to meat. The technology is offered among Bühler’s primary capabilities.

“With Bühler’s expertise in extrusion, but also in other engineering disciplines, such as milling, plant proteins, and powder handlings, we will be able to provide new and customized solutions for our clients and for the rapidly changing market,” says Volker Lammers, head of research platform process engineering at DIL.

Synergies in a science-backed industry

The DIL campus in Quakenbrück, Germany, provides food safety labs, pilot plants, and research capabilities. At the campus, over 200 scientists and technologists from diverse fields of expertise collaborate with a growing number of spin-off and start-up enterprises. They are focused largely on solutions that improve food safety and quality.  “With DIL, we have found a great partner who can provide a food grade test and production lab combined with extensive analytical services,” says Näf.

Partnerships essential to feeding a growing population

Eco-centric change is already underway in many parts of the food value chain, but to drive it faster, Bühler underscores that partnerships are essential.  “Within our planetary boundaries, there is no room for a further expansion of animal protein and fat production,” warns Heinz.

DIL will focus its research on scaling up alternative protein-based products with a lower environmental impact than the CO2-heavy meat value chain. New sustainable plant-based protein sources are often highlighted for their significantly less environmental impact, less land use, and a lower CO2 footprint than the animal meat value chain.

It is therefore essential to explore and identify underused sources of protein and develop efficient technologies to convert these into attractive, marketable products. The latest developments in this field include barley-based protein, pea-based pepperoni, and plant-based shrimp with authentic “snap and succulence.”

Eating within our planetary boundaries

Given the environmental impact of the current system, there is growing consensus that the food industry must change course immediately. By 2050, in order to meet the needs of the world’s ballooning population, industry will have to produce more food from 35 percent less agricultural land, as highlighted by the partnership.

With an additional 250 million metric tons of protein required per year, the pressure on alternatives to animal-based proteins is mounting, Bühler stresses.

Innova Market Insights has pegged “Plant-Forward” and “Transparency Triumphs” as Top Trends for 2021. Accordingly, industry giants including Nestlé and Arla Foods Ingredients aim to uphold these principles, in targets to either slash or fully eliminate net carbon emissions in the coming decades.

Published by foodingredientsfirst.com on January 11, 2021


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