FoodBev spoke with Henrik Hetzer, managing director at Loryma, about the company’s textured wheat protein range, Lory Tex, and how these ingredients can optimise meat alternatives as the food industry transitions to more animal-free and plant-based applications. Hetzer also discusses Loryma’s upcoming appearance at IFT FIRST, which is taking place in Chicago, US, from 10-13 July.
What exciting ingredients/innovations does Loryma hope to showcase during this year’s IFT FIRST event in Chicago?
The focus of our presentation will be our TVP, the textured wheat proteins of the Lory Tex range. They offer numerous advantages, helping manufacturers create meat alternatives that authentically replicate the sensory characteristics of the meat-based original. The latest addition to our texturate range is Lory Tex Granules MCF 340, with a particularly firm texture and clean label. We also have audiovisual material to perfectly demonstrate the application concepts created by our research and development team in order to inspire manufacturers.
How do your extrudates for texture optimisation of meat alternatives work? What are the main benefits imparted by the Lory Tex range?
Lory Tex is a dry extrudate, which makes it easy to store and cost-efficient to transport. After a short swelling time, the meat-like structure forms. Depending on the product’s shape and colour, it can resemble, for example, chicken breast or ground beef. The amount of water added determines the firmness. By combining different elements of the Lory Tex range, there are no limits when it comes to obtaining the precise texture specific to a chosen application. But it does not have to be about the complete replacement of meat either, because hybrid products with a reduced proportion of meat are also possible. In addition to texturising properties, the Lory Tex range also enhances the nutritional properties of end products, as the texturates are a source of pure vegetable protein.
Why did you decide to use wheat in your texturates?
Loryma is part of the Crespel & Deiters Group, a company that has specialised in processing this raw material for more than 160 years and is one of the leading wheat processors in Europe. Therefore, wheat is our first choice and our fascination for the many facets of this raw material is stronger than ever. We make full use of the grain’s components because each constituent part has its own properties and possible applications, including not only the starch-rich fractions but also those that are protein-rich. The latter can be extruded or turned into soluble hydrolysed wheat protein for protein enrichment. Wheat is also considered a future-proof raw material: it grows almost everywhere on earth in different climatic regions. The distance from our European contractual partners to our processing plants in Germany and the Netherlands is relatively short, so fewer transport emissions are produced than with raw materials from overseas.
What were the main challenges when developing this range?
Extrusion is an extremely flexible process that leaves a lot of room for creativity and variation. Understanding the complexity of the process is a continuous challenge when it comes to turning lab-scale innovation into full-scale production. We have carried out many test runs to find the ideal raw material mixture as a basis for our Lory Tex range. Of course, our work is never done, as we continue to fine-tune the tailor-made properties of the textures on behalf of our customers, or for in-house product development. We also benefit enormously from the know-how and basic research provided by the Crespel & Deiters Group.
How does your product differ to others on the market? What makes it unique?
Unlike products based on other raw materials, our ingredients are all completely neutral in sensory terms. Lory Tex is also easy to process due to short rehydration times and is texture-stable in autoclaves. In addition, the extensive bandwidth we offer is something special: by having the extrusion facilities within our group of companies, we are able to offer various forms and sizes of texturates and can even come up with individualised properties if required for a particular client project.
Which plant-based meat products are you focusing on specifically, and why?
We do not produce meat alternatives ourselves, but focus on the ongoing refinement and optimisation of ingredients and try to show what is technologically possible with prototypical concepts. Here, it is important for us to emphasise the number of possibilities and the context: there is not just one solution for wheat-based minced meat but it makes a difference, for example, if the preparation of the ‘raw’ product is done at home and therefore a cooking effect is desired. Another example is our vegan sausage, which can easily be customised by manufacturers and turned into a plant-based version of a spicy merguez. Vegan food is no longer a fringe phenomenon, as it is now firmly in the mainstream. For consumers, giving up meat should not mean sacrificing pleasure or variety.
Plant-based is entering a new era, dominated by taste, texture and health. How do you see this burgeoning industry developing in the near future?
It is clear that the food industry is in a state of transition, with the shift to more sustainable production and both sensory and nutritionally optimised products brought into sharp focus. Manufacturers have realised that this is the only way they can reach their target group in the long term. Also, consumers pay attention to ingredient lists, which should be uncomplicated, as short as possible and easy to understand. Declaration-friendly and multifunctional wheat ingredients perfectly meet this demand.
Plant-based foods are in vogue, but from a rational point of view, they need more impetus. It is already proving impossible to supply the global population with sufficient protein from animal sources in an environmentally sustainable way, particularly as the number of people on the planet continues to grow. Plants such as wheat are used directly for human nutrition. If they are used as animal feed, significantly more plant calories, arable land, water and energy are needed until the nutritional benefits become available to humans. We continually empower our customers to become more efficient and environmentally conscious.
What are you hoping to gain from this year’s IFT FIRST event?
The presentation at IFT FIRST is the prelude to extended business relations in North America, as next year we are going to open a US subsidiary in Chicago. Therefore, we hope to make some more contacts at the fair.
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