Home Countries Europe: Taste is key in fish derived meat substitutes, says Givaudan

Europe: Taste is key in fish derived meat substitutes, says Givaudan

Givaudan and the University of California, Berkeley’s Product Development Programme, have released a research on trends in alternative proteins and explores the opportunities and challenges for manufacturers.

Citing reasons for the popularity of plant-based fish products such as nutrition, clean eating and industry interest, Sylvain Jouet, global product manager, meat substitutes, fish and seafood, Givaudan, tells Food News International that taste remains a key factor to the success of product offerings.

Here are more details.

FNI: What are the opportunities for alternative proteins in the industry?

Jouet: The rise of plant-based foods has been unstoppable in recent years.

The trend has moved from niche to mainstream and looks set to become an enduring part of the food and drink landscape.

A recent report by BIS research estimates that the plant-based market will reach over US$480 billion by 2024, with a projected CAGR of nearly 14% from 2019 to 2024.

Meat substitutes are the fastest growing sub-category for plant-based products, but fish alternatives are expected to see dynamic growth over the next few years.

Investment in plant-based fish and seafood start-ups is already brisk and new product development is starting to gather pace.

Contributing to this growth is the increasing adoption of vegetarian and vegan diets, but more importantly, more consumers who are not on a restricted diet are choosing these products as they balance a ‘good for me, good for the planet’ approach to food.

There is a huge opportunity for new products in this space but manufacturers should bear in mind that the deciding factor in consumer choice, particularly those not on a restrictive diet, is still the tastiness of the product.

They should consider all elements of the product’s flavor, taste, aroma, and mouthfeel when developing new products and each of these elements will play an important role in flavor development.

Countering off-notes from the protein base; creating the right flavor profile that reflects freshness and specific species characteristics; as well as cooking cues such as grilled and fried; all play a part in building the overall flavor.

The process, application and protein base all affect the outcome as well and it takes skill, experience and the right mix of capabilities and tools to get a great-tasting result.

FNI: How are proteins made from plants, crickets and seeds they faring in the industry in terms of consumer acceptance, feasibility for use in food factories and cost as compared to meat?

Jouet: Choosing the right protein source for any plant-based product is a balancing act for manufacturers.

They need to consider several factors such as cost, sourcing, nutritional and protein content, functional properties and taste when selecting a protein.

The top choice for manufacturers is soy, due to its high nutritional content, functional flexibility, established supply and consequent low cost, as well as a favorable fibrous structure that performs well in the texturizing process.

Pea is the next most popular choice and other proteins include wheat, chickpea, lentil, flaxseed, faba and navy bean.

Soy remains the top choice for plant-based fish products.

Seaweed and algae are other options for manufacturers due to their strong associations with a ‘sea’ taste.

The gel-like texture properties of algae also closely match the texture of shrimp.

FNI: Which markets would plant-based fish products find success in?

Jouet: Fish consumption is growing worldwide with a 22% global average increase in per capita consumption from 1997 to 2017.

As a result, fish prices are rising, and this trend is expected to continue as demand outstrips supply for several key species of fish and seafood.

The market for processed fish products is also growing steadily in Asia and Europe with more pronounced growth expected in Africa.

As global demand and prices increase there is growing opportunity for plant-based fish to meet the supply gap for real fish products.

A competitive price, the absence of bones, as well as being easy to prepare make these products attractive alternatives for consumers.

We are already seeing rising consumer demand for plant-based fish.

Alternative processed fish products represent the biggest market opportunity but for them to become a regular part of consumers’ diet, the look, feel, nutritional content and most importantly taste must all be right.