Panel discussion on...

Healthy lifestyle

Welcome in the world of alternative meat: analytical challenges and perspectives


Mike Hughes

Head of Research and Insight

FMCG Gurus


1) One trend that has been noticeable is a move from health at all costs, to considered health, with consumers placing less priority on spending within the health and wellness market. Consumers are still spending but are scrutinizing more closely whether products are good value for money, effective, and essential. In addition, there has also been a move away from a focus on fear of illness, to addressing day-to-day well-being issues, such as mood and energy levels.

2) One interesting area has been the advances in protein hybrids, which serve both a functional, nutritional, and sustainable purpose. Indeed, the hybrid mixtures and opportunities around fortification not only address concerns over sensory appeal, but also the worry that plant-based diets are lacking certain nutrients. Moreover, while this section of the plant-based market will witness some backlash, it does appear a logical step to help facilitate meat reduction at a time when food supply chains become increasingly inadequate.

3) The main area of research that we have seen has been within the gut microbiome and establishing the link between the digestive system and other areas of well-being, including emotional health. While this has been a key area of innovation, and creates opportunities around personalization and customization, I do think long-term, more needs to be done to be descriptive and educative about what brands mean by “gut” and “digestive health”.

4) Price is the obvious answer to this, but it must be remembered that value is more important than low cost, and that value is ultimately determined by perceptions of efficacy. This means that consumers want products with multifunctional benefits (especially if they are taking a proactive approach to health and not suffering specific symptoms), and they want these benefit claims to be validated via scientific claims and evidence.

5) How do consumer today judge their health status: Please put the following parameter in order.

Emotional wellness is a major issue in an era of uncertainty and consumers evaluate their emotional wellness based on how they feel and what they see in the mirror. This is how we would rank priorities from 1 (highest) to 7 (lowest):

1. Mental and emotional well-being.

2. Diet and nutrition.

3. Quality of sleep.

4. Fitness levels.

5. Physical symptoms.

6. Medical check-ups.

7. Health tracking devices.

6a) While capsules and tablets remain the most popular form of supplement, there has been a surge in the popularity of formats that blur the boundaries of food and supplement, such as jellies and gummies.

6b)The desire for gummies and jellies appears, at least from a consumer perspective, to be especially noticeable in North America and Asia-Pacific over Europe.

7) Across the globe, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of consumers placing greater emphasis on mental well-being and sleep health over the last couple of years, which can be linked to people facing various levels of uncertainty that impact emotional wellness.

Concern over emotional wellness is more noticeable in North America and South America compared to Asia-Pacific and Europe. In comparison, consumers in Asia-Pacific are more noticeable than the global average to want to improve digestive health.

8a) At the moment, I would say consumers still have a preference for supplements over apps, even if the apps are more personalized. The reason for this is that consumers can find it difficult to monitor apps and may lack certainty over effectiveness, whilst supplements are positioned around ingredients that are known and trusted and involve less daily routine.

8b) One trend that has become more noticeable in recent years is that consumers can sometimes feel that health and wellness brands are too generic and not suited to their specific needs. The ability to monitor health and nutrient in-take in real time via apps is something that has definitely helped shape these attitudes.

10) The ethical and environmental credentials of a brand are important to consumers, especially as they deem health and sustainability to be interlinked, meaning they want brands to demonstrate accountability along the supply chain. Linked to this, consumers also want to avoid ingredients that sound artificial and potentially damaging to the environment. However, while sustainability claims are important to consumers, it is important not to overestimate the influence of these claims on purchasing alone, or willingness to pay a premium.

Consumers can demonstrate an attitude/behavior gap when it comes to sustainability claims. Indeed, consumers state that they deem these claims to be important, but this is only a secondary consideration when purchasing products compared to other attributes such as taste, nutritional profile, convenient format, and price.

What is required to scale-up production of alternative protein sources, such as lab-grown meat and cultivated (breast/bovine) milk?

For the production of 1 kg meat approx. 1 thousand times more water is needed than for 1 kg grain. And furthermore 60% of grain production in Germany is used for feeding cattle and pork.

The development of automated production equipment for tailor-made cultured meat using 3D bioprinting will help to feed the world (4).

The 3D bioprinting technology was developed by Professor Matsusaki of the Osaka University to create muscle tissue structures. This technology is expected to be utilized in the field of food, for production of cultured meat with controlled arrangement of muscle, fat, and blood vessels.

Most of the cultured meats reported so far have a minced structure consisting only of muscle cells, making it difficult to reproduce complex structures. To solve this problem, Matsusaki and co-workers developed a 3D bioprinting technology that uses 3D printing to produce different fibrous tissues (muscle, fat, and blood vessels) and integrates them into a bundle. This technology has made it possible not only to reproduce the famous Wagyu beef, but also to delicately adjust the fat and muscle components. Osaka University and Shimadzu will jointly develop equipment to automate the production of cultured meat using this technology. (5).

What are the most effective methods for enhancing the flavor and texture of alternative proteins?There are meaningful reasons not to go for these new types of foods

Bad experience in terms of taste and texture

Raw meat on its own has little aroma; therefore, almost all aromas associated with “meatiness” are created during the cooking process by the Maillard Reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. That reaction determines which non-volatile precursors release volatile aroma compounds. Plant-based meat (PBM), products created to resemble animal meat in both look and taste, are growing in popularity. A plant protein such as soy protein concentrate, along with colors, stabilizers, and oils, is used to successfully mimic meat flavor and texture. And, just like in animal meat, the amino acids of that protein undergo the Maillard Reaction.

Samples of PBM were run with the solid phase microextraction GC-MS and the volatile profile was compared against that of the organic beef. Similar compounds, such as fatty acids and Maillard browning reaction products, were found in both types of meat (Figure 1).

The differences can be explained by the different and wide variety of precursors present in PBM since it contains amino acids and sugars from various sources as opposed to regular meat.

There are five basic tastes, including deliciousness, which are perceived by people. The amount and kind of amino acids contribute to taste components. Of all the amino acids, glutamic acid is widely known as a component of the delicious taste. Further, the types and component ratios of amino acids largely control the flavor of food products. For example, glycine and alanine are associated with sweetness, valine and leucine with bitterness, and aspartic acid and glutamic acid with deliciousness.

The texture of food, including the sense of crispness, springiness, firmness, and the feeling on the tongue, is an important element that together with taste has an impact on the deliciousness of food. Food texture is normally evaluated using sensory tests. However, sensory tests are often difficult to reproduce, due to individual differences in people’s sensations and physical condition.

A texture analyzer can support sensory test with objective results in the form of numerical values for use in the field of food development. The texture analyzer evaluates the texture characteristics and allows a comparison of the texture of plant-based meat (PBM) and, for instance, chicken meatballs. Compared to chicken-derived products, plant-based meatballs had a higher force under loading conditions with less elasticity, which is the property to restore deformation (6). It is consistent with the result of the sensory test.

Figure 1. Overlaid Representative Chromatograms for PBM (black) and Organic Beef (pink) (6).


Barry Skillington

Chief Commercial Officer - Atlantia
Clinical Trials

Adriana Olivares

Corporate Communications
Director - Bioiberica

Amanda Jepson

Vice President, Business Development - Biova

Andrea Zangara

Head of Scientific Communications and Medical Affairs - Euromed

Magda Starula

Consultant, Health & Beauty - Euromonitor International

Mike Hughes

Head of Research and Insight - FMCG Gurus

Oliver Wolf

Marketing EMEIA - GELITA

Bertrand Rodriguez

Business Development and CSR Director - Gnosis by Lesaffre

Filipa Quintela

Global Marketing Manager, Human Nutrition and Health - Kemin

Celia Martin 

Regulatory Director & Health Ingredients Innovation Manager - Lallemand Bio-Ingredients

Amanda Mackinnon

Marketing & Communications Manager - Marinova Pty Ltd

Cindy Dekeyser

Global Business Intelligence Manager - PB Leiner

Yingying Wu

Global Product Manager Health & Nutrition - PB Leiner

Reyhan Nergiz Unal

Health & Nutrition Science Lead - PB Leiner

Carlos Rodríguez

Communication Manager - Pharmactive Biotech Products, SLU

Federica Carrozzo

Product Manager Nutraceutical - Roelmi HPC

Catarina Ferreira da Silva

Science Integration Manager - Rousselot

Elaine E. Vaughan

Health Science and Regulatory Affairs Leader - Sensus (Royal Cosun)

Veerle Dam

Health Science and Regulatory Affairs Specialist - Sensus (Royal Cosun)

Alice Barbier

Active Ingredients Product Manager - Seppic

Cristiana Piangiolino

Managing Director - SynBalance srl

Suzan Wopereis

Principal Scientist “systems health” - TNO