Panel discussion on...

Healthy lifestyle

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


Catarina Ferreira da Silva

Science Integration Manager



1) Over the past year, there has been a solidifying of the new consumer perspectives regarding health and wellness, which initially surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multifunctionality has been the keyword as individuals increasingly view health in a more comprehensive manner. This holistic approach is evident across various dietary supplements, especially those addressing overlapping lifestyle needs such as mental health, sleep, digestion, beauty, immunity, inflammation, energy and weight management (1).

In this regard, a great scientific achievement in nutritional sciences in the last twelve months could arguably be attributed to advancements in the understanding of collagen’s potential for overall health and well-being. Collagen-based applications have shown promise in positively influencing various aspects of health, including sleep quality and gastrointestinal comfort (2, 3). This represents a significant step forward in the development of nutrition solutions tailored to meet the demands of today's consumers' lifestyles.

What’s remarkable about natural foods with multifunctional properties is that they often have a positive domino effect on the body - and researchers are only beginning to explore this topic’s complexity. For example, there is growing interest in how addressing gut issues through nutritional solutions could impact emotional well-being in the long run. I believe that by integrating our medical knowledge with a more holistic understanding of nutrition and health, we can enhance the quality of life of many individuals.

7a) A common trait worldwide is people’s desire to uphold fitness and vitality throughout their later years, leading them to actively seek ways to enhance their health even in the absence of specific symptoms. This stems from an increasing awareness of the body as an ecosystem, recognizing the benefits of an active lifestyle on various aspects of health. According to statistics from FMCG Gurus, over 70% of consumers globally rate their health as good, yet they remain committed to improving it (4). Digestion, mental well-being, immunity, and sleep quality emerge as primary areas where consumers express a keen interest in improvement (5).

7b) Differently from Western countries, in Asia, for instance, holistic medicine and traditional, nature-inspired healing practices have deep roots in many of the region’s cultures. Consequently, because the entire human body is traditionally viewed as a holistic entity, the connection between emotional well-being and gut health is already known and well-accepted. It is, however, very exciting to see that scientists are now investigating the mechanisms behind this connection.

8a) I see lifestyle apps as a valuable, complementary tool for supplement brands rather than competitors to them. After all, big developments in science are always driven by technology. From genome sequencing to high-performance computing, the interplay between cutting-edge research and evolving technologies has continuously fueled scientific breakthroughs. Today, digital tools offer substantial opportunities. For example, nutrition researchers need to analyze the impact of a supplement on an individual’s overall health – a complex process. Artificial intelligence (AI) approaches offer new opportunities for better predicting and understanding the complex processes behind the benefits of multifunctional supplements. Also, thanks to personal devices and apps, it is possible to monitor how individuals respond to specific foods, facilitating the development of products suited to a personalized approach to nutrition.

8d) As a science-driven company, at Rousselot, we’re actually using digital apps to uncover both the efficacy and efficiency of food products thanks to the combination of clinical trials with real-world evidence. For example, we recently partnered with specialists to develop a convenient, user-friendly mobile app, ”Ingredients for Life,” to study the potential of our hydrolyzed cartilage matrix (HCM) as a joint health supplement and demonstrate how digitally-enabled protocols can create more realistic and inclusive clinical study designs, that complement standardized clinical trials. The app helped us recruit a wider and more heterogeneous cohort study – in terms of age, gender and activity level – in a more cost-effective way than traditional methods. It also encouraged participants to stick to the weekly questionnaire in the long run, demonstrating that mobile apps can generate qualitative, quantifiable, real-world data showcasing supplement effectiveness.

9d) In nutritional science, as in many other fields, the integration of big data and AI is set to revolutionize the landscape. So yes, I firmly believe that by 2030, our industry will leverage data alongside AI to conduct accurate simulations even before testing in a clinical setting. Of course, today we already predict in very generic terms, it’s what preventative solutions are built on. But as simulation increasingly emerges as a viable avenue for research, the potential arises for us to predict the efficacy of particular collagen formulations in aiding specific demographics with certain conditions. While the extent of this advancement remains uncertain, technological progress undoubtedly opens doors to previously inaccessible realms of research, enabling exploration into the health advantages of collagen tailored to distinct demographic subsets such as age groups, health statuses, lifestyles, or physical build. In addition, this will accelerate the innovation cycle, facilitating the rapid emergence of further insights.

10a) Yes, sustainability has definitely emerged as a significant concern within the nutraceutical industry. With growing awareness of environmental issues, consumers are increasingly scrutinizing the origins of their supplements. Therefore, brands that are transparent about their production processes are best positioned to gain their trust. The interest in upcycled ingredients is also on the rise (6). Collagen, for example, as a natural and safe protein, aligns with this movement towards reducing food waste and promoting a circular economy. As part of Darling Ingredients, it is in our DNA to transform nutrient-rich raw materials into high-quality, functional solutions, making sure none of their natural goodness goes to waste.

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