Cargill exec hails tech poised to help alt fat with melting point that behaves like animal fat
01 Mar 2023 --- Cargill is partnering with alternative fat producers Cubiq Foods to accelerate the development of and bring Cubiq’s plant-based fat technologies to market. Cargill will add various plant-based oils to its ingredient portfolio and co-develop and release innovations based on Cubiq’s technology as part of the agreement.
“Our first product to market, Go!Drop, is a specialized, patent-pending technology that creates an emulsion of vegetable oils and water, which is stabilized using plant-based ingredients,” Andrés Montefeltro, CEO of Cubiq Foods, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Because this vegetable oil emulsion contains water, it reduces the amount of total fat, saturated fats and calories in Go!Drop, as compared to traditional animal fats or tropical oils. Functionally, it has a higher melting point and other properties which enable it to behave like animal fat in terms of visual appearance, bite and mouthfeel.”
Cubiq Foods’ technology can create the textures and flavors plant-based meats have long struggled to mimic from meat.
“Our smart fat also helps deliver flavors more efficiently, modifying salt and flavor perception. As a result, when Go!Drop is added into a plant-based burger patty, it delivers a nice cooking sensation, supports flavor and provides optimal organoleptic properties,” adds Montefeltro.
Consumers demand boost to plant-based taste
Plant-based options are currently “falling short of consumers’ expectations,” according to Vivek Cherian, meat and dairy alternatives category leader for edible oils at Cargill, who notes that consumer demands are changing as broader diet trends shift.
Consumers also demand more from the label in terms of clean ingredients and healthier processing methods. As the plant-based space evolves, a certain level of sophistication is being demanded after the initial wave of alternative NPD which has seen a plethora of plant-based products hit retail shelves around the world.
“As more consumers lean into plant-based eating, our proprietary research finds their expectations continue to elevate, with taste, nutrition and value among their top concerns,” he says.
“They want plant-based alternatives that more closely mimic animal-based options, and novel fat solutions are central to delivering on that task.”
Cherian is confident that fat can supply the meat mimicry demanded by consumers.
“New fat technologies are essential in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, where fats and oils play pivotal roles in the structure, taste, texture and nutritional profile of finished products,” he notes.
Cubiq’s upcoming Go!Drop can specifically meet discerning flexitarian demands for a plant-based burger that tastes and feels meaty.
“Fat is key to the taste and juiciness consumers love in a burger. Go!Drop can help deliver those sensory experiences while offering an improved nutritional profile with reductions in total fats, saturated fats and calories. From the sensory side, Go!Drop supports juiciness, with a cooking behavior that avoids extensive leaching of water, oils and aromas,” he says.
“As a result, it delivers the juicy products that today’s flexitarian consumer wants. It also helps mimic the marbling, with a color that closely resembles animal fat, and acts as a salt and aroma carrier, for improved taste compared to traditional plant-based fats.”
Cherian is confident that as an ingredient, Go!Drop can compete with traditional animal fats and tropical oils.
“Nutritionally, Go!Drop enables formulators to reduce total fats, saturated fats and calories compared to traditional animal fats or tropical oils. Functionally, it replicates animal fat in terms of visual appearance, mouthfeel and bite,” he says.
Accelerating into the future
The partnership between Cargill, the world’s third-largest meat producer, and Cubiq is part of the former’s push to become a leader in the plant-based ingredient space.
“Through our work with Cubiq Foods and other technology partners like Puris, Bflike and Upside Foods (formerly known as Memphis Meat), we continue to advance our position as a developer of innovative food ingredient solutions,” says Cherian.
Cargill and Cubiq Foods have collaborated since last year when Cargill became a significant part of an investment round into Cubiq Foods. Cargill, Moira Capital Partners, SGEIC and Newtree Impact invested US$5.75 million in the company.
When FoodIngredientsFirst talked to Montefeltro in 2019, such an investment was all part of the plan. Today, he is ready for the next steps.
“Signing the joint development and commercial agreements represents the next phase in our partnership with Cargill, as our groundbreaking technology is now ready for application development, production scale-up and widespread commercialization,” says Montefeltro.
In a similar move, Cargill recently released a range of plant-based “power ingredients” that have been designed for “outstanding sensory appeal” in vegan chocolate.
Alternative fats gaining ground
On a broader scale, alternative fats are growing in popularity as the go-to ingredient to boost the taste and texture of plant-based offerings, with various start-ups working on similar projects. Our deep dive looked closer at the growing alternative fat space.
We talked to Hoxton Farms about breaking ground on its new London-based alternative fat facility, producing cultivated fats designed to draw flexitarians.
Singapore-based ImpacFat recently unveiled its cell-cultivated fish oil alternative, made from removing stem cells from the fat tissue of edible fish species and expanding them in a bioreactor before converting them to mature fat cells.
By James Davies
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