Research aims to make plant protein alternatives more ‘meat like’


Beef Central (AU)



FOR many consumers, nothing beats the taste and texture of a big juicy burger – but how do manufacturers recreate that eating experience with plant-based protein alternatives?


That is the culinary quest University of Queensland engineers and food scientists are undertaking as part of a three-year Australian Research Council project in partnership with US-based food technology company Motif FoodWorks, whose mission is to make plant-based food taste better and be more nutritious.


Professor Jason Stokes from UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering said attributes like taste, texture, and smell combined are primary drivers for consumers when considering a meat-free option. It’s not just the taste, it has to be the texture as well, Professor Stokes said, so his team wanted to understand the mechanics that occur during eating and simulate them in a laboratory.


Flow properties, friction and deformation could all influence how the product was perceived by consumers, in terms of texture, taste and aroma.


“Some consumers want to continue to eat meat but supplement their diet with a plant-based protein for environmental or sustainability reasons. They’ve started to demand quite a bit from the product, and want it to have the same characteristics as a normal meat experience while also being healthy.“


Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation’s Associate Professor Heather Smyth said innovations around texture mechanics were the key to creating the best plant-based eating experience.


“The reality is that plant protein burgers did not functionally behave the same way that meat proteins do,” Prof Smyth said...