Plant-based meats are becoming increasingly popular. Vegetarian or even vegan nutrition is no longer just a trend. According to current studies, there are at least 80 Million vegans and vegetarians in Europe now and almost 40% of meat-eaters are actively trying to reduce their consumption, with many citing either health or environmental reasons.
Riding on this wave, Planted produces plant-based meat. Using various technologies, Planted designs and structures alternative proteins in any size, shape, and fibrous texture. The Zurich-based foodtech spin-off from the Swiss Technical Institute of Technology (ETH) was founded in 2019 and was quick to build intellectual property around its biostructuring approach. Far from resting on its laurels, Planted wants to further improve the quality of its products and is conducting, among others, an innovation project in collaboration with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).
Reducing meat consumption and preserving the environment through science. This is the objective of Planted. The brand offers consumers a healthy and tasty alternative to traditional meat. The products offered are mainly made from pea protein. While this is a more sustainable option, it does present some challenges. “The raw materials we use now can have an unpleasant taste. Peas, for example, often have a bitter and beany taste just like grass and legumes,” explains Patrick Rühs, Head of Science at Planted.
A virtuous purpose
Today, he feels that this is not enough. “The products currently available replace no more than 2.5% of overall meat consumption. Consumers say this is due to lack of taste, cost and questionable ingredients. For real change to occur, we need to create “better meat than animal meat” – better in terms of taste, price, environmental impact and health benefits.
Further improving the taste and texture of the products therefore quickly became essential. To optimize these aspects, Planted works closely with ZHAW thanks to the support of Innosuisse. “This collaboration is an opportunity to combine industry and academic knowledge, which gives us the possiblity to innovate,” says Patrick Rühs.
Fermentation at the heart of research
Researchers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences are focusing their research on fermentation, a technique that, when applied to Planted’s needs, is unprecedented. “In plantbased meat production, fermentation of raw materials, especially peas, is an innovative approach that has not yet been exploited,” explains Susanne Miescher Schwenninger, Head of the Food Biotechnology Research Group at ZHAW Wädenswil.
The ZHAW team is screening hundreds of microorganisms to find those capable of transforming undesirable flavours into pleasant ones, thus generating a better taste of plant-based meat. “The potential candidates will then be applied in Planted’s Biostructuring process,” adds Susanne Miescher Schwenninger.
Through this project, Planted hopes to further revolutionize the food system hence to dramatically lower the overall meat consumption.by designing products inspired by nature and driven by consumers and technology.
Last modification 07.07.2022