Coperion develops MEGAtex cooling die for manufacturing plant-based meat substitutes

The MEGAtex S7 cooling die offers HMMA meat substitute manufacturers greater flexibility

Coperion has developed the new MEGAtex S7 cooling die for manufacturing plant-based high moisture meat analogue (HMMA) meat substitutes. Mounted at the discharge of the ZSK Food Extruder, the texturising unit gives the plant protein mass a dense, fibrous structure that resembles animal flesh.

The MEGAtex S7 cooling die allows for variable width and strength as well as various textures for meat substitutes. It also offers features that simplify handling, and make both recipe and configuration changes possible with just a few quick adjustments.

Coperion will exhibit the new MEGAtex S7 cooling die at Anuga FoodTec 2024.

New key technology for processing plant proteins

HMMA is a plant-based intermediate product that is primarily used for ready-to-eat meals such as vegan chicken nuggets or ground meat. It contains 50-70% water and 30-50% plant proteins with less than 10% fat content. In the HMMA manufacturing process, protein-rich raw materials are first mixed with water and worked into a homogeneous mass in a ZSK Food Extruder. This mass is then pressed through the MEGAtex cooling die, where the meat-like texture is formed and a solid strand is discharged for further processing.

Characteristics of HMMA quality are the product’s texture and strength as well as the length and strength of the fibres. The MEGAtex S7 cooling die fulfills these quality requirements, in particular to provide more flexibility to smaller companies, research organisations, and start-ups. The MEGAtex S7 achieves throughputs of 5-50kg/h, and can be combined with the ZSK Food Extruder sizes 18, 27 and 34. Additional sizes of the Coperion MEGAtex cooling die for significantly higher throughputs will follow.

Easy handling, good cleanability and high flexibility

The MEGAtex cooling die features a modular design. It consists of individual segments which can be combined as needed, depending upon the requirements of the raw materials and the desired product structure.

The MEGAtex S7 comes with interchangeable inlays that give the machine operator the flexibility to vary the strand width between 35-70mm and the length between 10-15mm.

With its opening mechanism, the MEGAtex cooling die provides access along its entire length. Moreover, product samples can be extracted at any time in any segment of the cooling die. The MEGAtex also features a hygienic design which reduces machine downtime for cleaning to a minimum.

At the end of the die, there is a cutter that facilitates quick sampling of HMMA at the discharge. The cooling die is mounted on rollers, making it mobile. These additional features enhance the MEGAtex’s flexibility for frequently changing products; it is thus ideal for development environments.

“The market for plant-based meat substitutes is growing exponentially and it’s very important to us to propel this development forward with innovative technologies. With this new MEGAtex cooling die, we’re pursuing our goal of redesigning the HMMA manufacturing process with greater variability. Moreover, maximised accessibility will markedly reduce cleaning time and increase the overall profitability of HMMA production. After comprehensive tests at our Food Test Lab using various raw materials, we can confirm with high certainty that we have fully achieved these goals,” said Markus Schmudde, head of R&D, compounding and extrusion at Coperion.