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With consumerism comes great responsibility. More and more are switching their diet towards vegan and vegetarian alternatives, varying from dairy to meat. As more plant-based meat technologies are being invented, the production is rising in popularity. Ever wondered which challenges come with that?

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Stories about Plant-based meat

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The secret lies in the mixing!

The main ingredients in plant-based meat production process are protein-rich plants like soybeans which are then cooked and processed into meat shape. While the general production of plant-based meat alternatives (PBMA) involves many processing stages, the (pre-)mixing stage is amongst the most challenging step. The base mix of PBMA often contains over 30 different ingredients with different physical properties in terms of density, size, moisture, etc.

This makes mixing quite challenging as continuous production processes can be disturbed by frequent recipe changes. As a solution, makers can use special plant-based meat technologies such as continuous mixing systems which focus on batch production and intend to reduce any disturbances in the mixing process.

Newest plant-based meat technologies

The ‘Extrudable Fat Technology’ is a plant based food technology that focuses on mimicking animal fat which enables a more authentic fat texture, also known as marbling. For this, fat is run through an extruder and then combined with protein. Despite the production pressures and temperature, this allows both components to be physically linked together instead of the fat turning liquid, as it would have normally.

Another effective way of making plant-based meat is by producing TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). TVP per se was commonly produced with Low Moisture Extrusion Cooking (LMEC) processes and has been used as a meat substitute since the 1960’s, so technically it is not new. New techniques are now using High Moisture Extrusion Cooking (HMEC) and offer a better fibrous consistency and texture, more effectively replicating the structure, texture and overall feeling of meat.

It all depends on the consumer

While it is known that plant based protein alternatives are a lot friendlier for the environment and reducing our footprint, a common point for discussion or rejection from consumers is the taste, texture and appearance of many vegan meat substitutes. These three criteria make the biggest challenge for producers. With advanced plant-based food products, there is a hopeful outlook on continuous positive developments. Especially with the rise of popular alternatives such as “impossible foods” & “beyond Meat”. Consumers used to believe that protein could only come from real meat. However, there are now an incredible amount of alternative protein choices on the market. Some of which even contain higher protein content than actual meat. You can now get all the protein you need in the form of meat substitutes such as meatless steaks, nuggets, burgers, sausages and more.

Processing steps involved in plant-based-meat making

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