The International V-Label Awards is the first international award scheme dedicated to recognizing positive impact, quality, and innovation in the plant-based space. The award also recognizes companies’ efforts in creating a positive impact on the environment and within their communities.
While the Gulfood 2022 Manufacturing Industry Excellence awards are awarded in recognition of innovative products and technologies that have made outstanding contributions to the industry, and that provide users with increased convenience while achieving sustainable development.
Perfumer & Flavorist+ connected with Flavio Garofalo, global category director, Culinary & Plant Attitude division at Givaudan to discuss the PrimeLock+ technology as well as the primary challenges of formulating for plant-based applications, consumer trends and the future of the market space.
What are some of the primary challenges of formulating for plant-based applications?
One of the key challenges around plant-based applications is the dryness and lack of flavour perceived while consuming plant-based products, and this is what PrimeLock+ has been developed to overcome.
Many current market products are relatively high in fat (10-15%+); when these meat substitute products are cooked, a significant amount of oil is expressed from the protein matrix leading to a dryer mouthfeel. PrimeLock+ solves this problem by both encapsulating fat and protecting the flavour in a matrix that partially melts during cooking, resulting in a juicy, tasty eating experience.
The flavour delivery of PrimeLock+ is unparalleled in plant-based products. The technology also brings the visual appeal of beef fat in plant-based products and can reduce the overall fat content – a growing concern for health-conscious consumers. Although PrimeLock+ was developed specifically for plant-based burgers, it works equally well in sausages, meatballs, and many other applications, including meat-based products.
Can you touch on the innovation behind PrimeLock+?
Givaudan’s innovation process starts by identifying the need: what is the problem we are trying to solve? In this case, it was the dryness perceived while consuming a plant-based product. This is followed by understanding how nature works: why would a burger remain juicy even as it reaches 60-70C? Why do current plant-based products become dry after cooking? Then, our food scientists work on developing the technology to answer the challenge, inspired by nature.
Prototypes are born, which undergo a series of application tests and improvements that result in a product ready for scale up. Developing the process at large scale is the next step, and in this case, it requires investment in new equipment. During the process, we determine how novel the new product or technology is and apply for any necessary patents.
This extensive innovation process resulted in our ground-breaking new product, PrimeLock+, which has been widely recognized with recent awards from V-Label, a globally recognised logo mark for vegan products, and the Gulfood Manufacturing Industry Excellence Awards.
What are some of the current trends or consumer demands driving innovation in the plant-based space?
While there are many factors that contribute to a successful product, great taste and mouthfeel are still the biggest drivers of consumer choice for plant-based foods. In fact, a study completed by Givaudan earlier this year in Europe revealed that taste, texture and nutritional value are among the top most important aspects reported by consumers when choosing vegetarian meat products. Our new PrimeLock+ creates that all-important juicy eating experience and delicious taste that consumers want, mainly in plant-based savoury products such as burgers.
In addition to these considerations, Givaudan recognised early on the fundamental importance of sustainability for the alternative protein movement: we will not be able to feed the world in 2050 the way we do today. Consumers are increasingly choosing plant-based products not just for environmental reasons, but also due to health and ethical concerns.
These factors have led to a sharp increase in investments in the alternative protein field, funding innumerable start-ups and driving innovation in this segment. In fact, according to Good Food Institute (GFI)**, investment in the protein alternative category tripled from 2019 to 2020, raising more than 3 billion dollars. Meat and dairy alternatives saw significant growth early in the trend, which continues today.
More recent developments include the growth of plant-based fish and seafood alternatives as well as plant-based cheese.
From your perspective, what does the future look like for plant-based formulation?
We believe that in the near term, the industry will continue to focus on mimicking meat and driving down costs, in order to gain market share and consumer acceptance. In the mid to long term, new formats and products will be developed that deliver nutrition and a unique center-of-plate food experience, without trying to mimic meat. In other words, meat will eventually become the alternative.
For this, new plant proteins will be developed and scaled up, and new technologies like PrimeLock+ will be created to ensure we meet the demands of consumers.
At Givaudan, we look at plant-based products holistically, with a vast range of knowledge, skills, technologies, and teams in place to support our customers in their product development.
We are continually investing in and growing our global ecosystem of experts, technologies specialist innovation centres together with an integrated portfolio specifically designed for plant protein products. Our unique collaborative approach to co-creating plant-based food experiences stretches from scientific understanding and research with innovation partners around the world to holistic product design.
Our innovation hubs are at the forefront of the latest developments in this space, helping shape the future of our food and address some of the big challenges we face with great food experiences.
*PrimeLock+ is a trademark of Givaudan