Burger patties with soy protein, nugget with pea protein or fish sticks with Mycoprotein — consumers are increasingly switching to plant-based versions of popular meat-based products. As the market is growing exponentially, it also offers considerable potential to develop further products. Some consumers reject plant-based alternatives because they are put off by the taste and texture of these products. Symrise has therefore partnered with scientists from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, and other industry partners. They aim to better understand how to improve the sensory quality of meat alternatives and win over new consumers.
“Appetite comes with eating,” as the saying goes. After all, many factors, such as the texture of food, exist beyond taste and play an important role in creating the feeling of enjoyment as one eats. This and other topics form the subject of a public-private partnership between Symrise and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and other industry partners. The research will provide the food industry with findings on how to create tastier alternatives for meat products; a crucial step on the path to more sustainable nutrition with more plant-based products.
How do components that are released while eating influence taste?
Clearly, there is still a difference in the taste and mouthfeel of products from strictly plant-based proteins compared to animal proteins. For this reason, the taste, nutrition and health segment at Symrise is working on this topic.
“As part of the consortium project, we are looking into finding the relationship between the structure and the inherent characteristics of meat alternatives and are examining them. We want to understand how the product structure changes when people chew food and how it affects the perception of taste and mouthfeel. Our team of researchers can contribute their wealth of application expertise with this to enable customers to create great-tasting plant-based products,” said Katja Tiitinen, sensory and consumer insights director of F&B in EAME.
Symrise is also supporting the joint project with WUR in the following three key areas: understanding of sensory characteristics of products on the markets; optimising the sensory performance and release of taste and flavour during chewing; and providing taste recipes.
“As the first team of researchers on this topic worldwide — to the best of our knowledge — the consortium studies how the characteristics of meat alternatives change while chewing by combining in vitro and in vivo evaluations with sensory tests,” Tiitinen added. “This research cooperation thus represents an important initiative for a sustainable lifestyle.”
The consortium comprises Symrise and Wageningen University & Research, as well as the companies Nissin Food Holdings, Starfield Food & Science Technology, AAK, Vivera and GoodMills Innovation.