Blending meat and plant-based ingredients in the same product may please flexitarians, but will the trend last? Putting meat and vegetables on the same plate is nothing new. But what’s novel about today’s plate is the juxtaposition of meat and plant-based combinations within the same staple or other products, like a hamburger Patty with pea protein or shredded sausage partly with cauliflower.
In short, for these new products, meat and vegetables coexist well within the same product, sometimes closely together and sometimes indistinguishable.
Raise and crinum is a mixed category of meat plants. Although it uses isolated pea protein, there are 16 other ingredients on its ingredient list.
“We have seen the popularity of plant-based products and, as a meat company, we are aware that many consumers are trying to reduce their meat intake for a number of reasons, including nutritional, ethical and environmentally friendly,” says MayurAras, brand manager at Hormel’s AppleGateArms. The company recently launched its Welladish Meatball line, which combines animal meat with vegetables.
“But many of those who are cutting back on meat don’t want to cut it out completely, and at the same time want to have meat in their diet that is cleaner or healthier than what they are already eating, and that’s what motivates us. We’ve created a product that blends premium meat with whole vegetables, legumes and grains without any mystery ingredients that consumers aren’t used to.”
At present, the combination of meat + vegetables in the market mainly has two categories: vegetables are added to meat products in the form of imitation meat products; And meat products with added vegetables. Both seem to have a place in the market.
“We call it the ‘hybrid’ food trend, where companies are trying to attract consumers and increase consumption of plant-based foods without completely abandoning animal-based foods,” says TomVierhile, Innovamarket Insights’ vice-president of strategic insights for North America. This is attracting consumers who don’t identify themselves as vegans or vegetarians, but want to increase their consumption of some plant-based products.”
Simulate meat and meat mixtures
“Meat + Vegetable” combo products that try to mimic real meat, such as combo burgers/veggie meringue or meatballs, are aimed at customers who want a healthier burger but don’t want to give up meat entirely.
Hormel seems confident in the concept, and its AppleGadefarms product, the Wellbuilding building, is also popular.
Brand manager Mayuraras said: “We are launching this new product at one of the most uncertain times in our history. However, we have seen a number of retailers from all over the United States come in to purchase the product. And that’s because we use real animal meat and in this case, the pork balls have real pork in them; Turkey balls also have Turkey. The taste and texture of the final product is very close to that of a whole meat product. Consumers also reported that they felt satisfied and had no discomfort after eating the products.”
In addition to ApplegateArms’s products, Hormel’s Burke brand released two mixed-ingredient products in 2019 that are 70 percent meat and 30 percent vegetables. One is beef plus two kinds of mushrooms; One is pork plus dehydrated cauliflower. The products are part of the Madesimple line, which is used by food processors to make breakfast bowls, frozen lasagna, frozen pizza and other entrees.
“The Hormel researchers started with a 50/50 ratio,” says AmyThielking, marketing manager at Hormel Ingredient Solutions. However, we ultimately found that for the best taste and processing operations, 70/30 is a magic number.”
Getting the mixture right is an important challenge for manufacturers of combination products, says MelissaMachen, senior technical services specialist for plant proteins at Cargill.
Cargill has formed a joint venture with PurisFoods to supply Purispea proteins to manufacturers in the sector.
“The focus is to make sure the balance between animal and plant proteins is the right one.” Machen said. “The product needs a certain moisture content and flexibility. If you’re making a Patty and you want it to go from one conveyor belt to another on a Formax device, you need to make sure that the recipe can go through the conveyor belt of the device to a blast cooler or a freezer or any other freezing device.”
Of course, getting the combination just right requires flavor and the overall eating experience.
“You need to optimize your recipes to make sure the food is of the right quality,” Machen stresses. This may be related to fat content, water content, content utilization, and other factors. This may require adding textured proteins or protein powders to get the desired texture and viscosity.”
“With vegetables, even if they’re cooked, they add a lot of water. So when it’s cooked, does the water evaporate or remain in the product? Therefore, you may need to add protein powder or starch to capture the released water into the system to produce the desired product.” “She added.
Whole vegetable added meat products
While some manufacturers of meat-and-vegetable blends emphasize their blend’s low fat content and true meat taste and appearance, others stress that adding vegetables is simply a nutritional benefit.
For example, the PerdueChickenPlus chicken plus line, launched in the summer of 2019, promotes the fact that a serving of chicken contains a quarter of vegetables.
“Consumers are telling us that it would be important and beautiful for them and their children to eat more vegetables in a way that is simple and delicious.” “Says Tracey Hostetler, vice president of marketing for Perdue.
Chickenplus products are made from a frozen mixture of chickpeas, broccoli and ground chicken, and the product is made in blocks.
“One of the biggest challenges in development was having about a quarter of a serving of vegetables,” Hostetler says. In order to get approval, we had to demonstrate that the vegetables came from a natural form, that they were true chickpeas and broccoli, not separated, stripped of ingredients or heavily processed, and that a quarter of each serving was the actual vegetable content.”
She concluded: “Meat protein is mixed with natural, functional non-meat ingredients to provide the consistency of formula that is essential to our production process.”
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Vierhile thinks Perdue’s strategy may have a better chance of success than those that focus solely on imitation meat.
“The PerdueChickenPlus product is built on the hidden vegetable trend. This may be a more productive Angle. They may have created a better path to success by showing that vegetable ingredients have been added to the product to show that they are improving it. It may be more effective to tell consumers what they have gained than what they have lost.” He said.
Will this combination last?
Consumers are indeed looking for alternatives to meat, but is there any merit to the idea of mixing meat and plant proteins in patties, mince and meatballs?
“I think it’s tricky,” Vierhile said. I remember soft drink companies experimenting with medium-calorie soft drinks. Most consumers think they want calorie-free soft drinks or regular soft drinks. If you want to get rid of animal products, it seems you have to avoid animal products altogether.”
Machen was skeptical, but ultimately had more faith in the product. “I think some consumers may have a hard time understanding this, they’re not quite sure where the concept is going. But I think it will grow. We know that the flexitarian market is growing. These consumers are focused on reducing their consumption of conventional meat. This means either using 100% plant-based products or using a mix of products. So this number is going to grow.