The veggie burger industry plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a tastier alternative. Swiss group Firmenich, one of the producers, says that reinventing the sensation of beef focuses more on the response to the dish and the taste in the mouth.
“Finding protein such as meat from plant-based protein is very complex,” said Emmanuel Butstraen, head of the flavor department at Firmenich, referring to SCMP, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
One of the most difficult challenges is avoiding bad taste. Pea protein tends to give off a bitter taste that quickly hits the tongue, Butstraen says. Plant-based proteins can generally provide a green apple or pear “flavor,” said Jerome Barra, the company’s director of innovation.
To mask or balance these flavors with other flavors, fragrance experts use an extensive library of ingredients. Barra compares a database to a ‘piano of a thousand keys’. “AI can generate millions of possibilities,” he said.
He said the algorithm can not only generate different flavor combinations, but also play a role in changing consumer preferences and identifying technical limitations. They distill combinations of ingredients that the experts can use to create flavors, he says. Only then tested in the kitchen with the chef.
Algorithms can represent different combinations that human forecasters may not understand. So far, AI has enabled companies to develop scents that mimic the specific flavors of roasted meats using plant-based ingredients.
Firmenich Chief Executive Gilbert Ghostine explains: “Plant based foods are a very important change in consumption. I see this trend growing even stronger in the future.” The story also points out that meat and dairy alternatives are one of the food trends with the highest growth potential.
According to a study by the bank Credit Suisse, the market for alternative meat and dairy products is already worth about 14 billion dollars worldwide. This figure is expected to reach $143 billion (Rp2 trillion) by 2030 and $1.4 trillion (Rp20 trillion) by 2050.
With the advent of flexible diets and concerns about the environmental footprint of meat, the market for vegetarian alternatives is growing. quickly under the influence of companies, startups, such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, as well as industry giants, such as Nestle or Unilever.
“Steaks, chops and plant-based burgers are processed foods whose value depends on ingredients, which vary from product to product,” said Muriel Jaquet, a dietitian with the Swiss Nutrition Society.
The Swiss Nutrition Society, in conjunction with the Swiss Ministry of Health, recommends eating one serving of meat, fish, eggs or other alternatives such as tofu per day. With vegetarian steak, it advises consumers to check the salt, sugar and fat content.
After rising 11.4 percent in 2019, global growth in alternative meat sales slowed to 1.3 percent in 2020, but is set to rise again to 5.1 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2020, according to market researcher Euromonitor International. 2022.
By comparison, meat products more affected by the global pandemic saw only 0.3 percent growth last year, with a moderate recovery of 2.9 percent in 2021 and 4.6 percent next year.