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Meaty pizza toppings go meat-free

Soya has long been part of a vegetarian diet. Now soya-based technology is targeting consumers who enjoy meat but want to eat less of it.

More and more consumers are choosing either to eat less meat or to cut it completely from their diet. Although there are big differences between markets, the number of vegetarians and so-called semi-vegetarian meat reducers is growing in the West – at least if Euromonitor statistics on meat substitutes are anything to go by.

For pizza-lovers, the meat question has never been a difficult one. Vegetarian options have always been part of the standard pizza range. However, for those who want to eat less meat but still enjoy a meat-like pizza topping, satisfaction can be harder to find.

With our knowledge of vegetable protein, we may be able to help. 

Meat-simulating technology
In the 30 years or so since the first soya protein granulate appeared on the market as a cost-reducing meat extender, technology has moved beyond simply producing a meat alternative with a 1:1 protein content. Today, it is possible to simulate meat texture and taste – and even the structure of whole muscle fiber.

One of our biggest soya development projects has focused on the quest to come up with a fibrous meat-free product. From the start, we realised that soya couldn’t do it alone. What we needed were the properties of another meat alternative – wheat protein.

Extrusion adds fibrosity

Used individually, soya and wheat proteins each have their limitations. But, when combined, we have found that they produce a chewy, meat-like product. Subsequent extrusion at high temperature and under high pressure and shear results in a vegetable protein product with a fibrous structure.

Today we have patented our extrusion process, and in sensory trials our vegetable protein scores well in comparisons with beef, poultry and fish.

A big part of our work today goes into adapting our meat-free products to customer specifications. When it comes to pizza, this often means working with the topping supplier to formulate the recipe and ensure it works on existing meat processing lines.

Once sensory quality is in place, working with soya couldn’t be easier. Unlike meat, dried protein granulate has an 18-month microbiological shelf life at ambient temperature. Just pour into the mixer, add water and start the process.

The commercial name for our structured vegetable protein is SUPRO® MAX 5010, part of the DuPont™ Danisco® range.