Epi & Co targets plant-based markets in Europe, debuts chickpea and wheat offerings
30 Oct 2018 --- As the demand for plant-based core meal solutions heats up across Europe, Epi & Co, part of the French cooperative group, Tereos, is offering new wheat and chickpea based gourmet specialties made from ingredients that have been sourced locally in France and Germany. The group aims to promote diets based on plant-based proteins, that are both healthier and more respectful of the environment.
With the Epi & Co range, the Tereos group offers a 100 percent plant-based, innovative and tasty recipe, for which they won the 2015 Global Innovation Competition.
At this years’ SIAL trade show in Paris, Epi & Co presented their plant-based concepts which are making waves across France. According to Sales Manager, David Cygler, “We are hoping to develop our sales overseas and our main target is to develop our products in foodservice in France and internationally as well.”
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst at the SIAL last week, Cygler noted that while the company started at the end of 2015, the whole range only came into existence a few months ago. “Now we have a range of six different products and the range was created in June this year, along with the other recipes that you can see on our stand.”
“The idea behind our products was to use wheat and chickpea ingredients to develop meat alternatives, for the growing population of flexitarians in Europe. The range is vegan-friendly, kosher and halal as well,” he adds.
“Our brand was created recently, in partnership with Tereos.It’s a range that can travel easily, it can be applied to different cuisines, above all it’s very versatile and healthy,” he notes.
Le Sauté Végétal (by Tereos and Epi & Co) is the brand's first flagship product. It consists of wheat and chickpea-based gourmet specialty products that combine all the nutritional goodness of vegetable proteins.
These ready-to-cook, bitesize pieces let you innovate, thrill your taste buds and reinvigorate your cookings, says Epi & Co.
The market for plant-based alternatives to meat is a highly competitive space. Some innovators are trying to recreate similar taste and texture to that of chicken, for example, but for Epi & Co, that is not necessarily the goal.
“For us, the importance of creating a plant-based core meal solution doesn’t mean that it has to be similar to meat. We wanted to create an alternative meat product, which is plant-based and could be used in the way you would use meat at home, but in different shapes and formats,” Cygler explains. “The variety as well and the recipes that we have developed enables the consumer to have an exciting eating experience in terms of taste.”
According to Cygler, in addition to the Sauté Végétal, consumers can discover other shapes and tastes of this range which combine all the benefits of plant proteins.
“We are offering a variety of products. For example, the small pieces are all made with wheat and chickpeas, then when it comes to the bigger pieces, you have an addition of seeds and vegetables, fried onions, green and red peppers, green lentils and so on,” he explains.
“It’s a clean label range with good healthy ingredients and anybody can eat it. It’s the perfect choice for a vegetarian meal, but we want to target flexitarians and anyone who is open to reducing their meat consumption,” Cygler notes.
With regards to the texture of the range, Cygler says it has a “good bite,” and it’s also “a product that remains stable and steady in your mouth.”
“When cooking, it won’t reduce and won’t absorb sauce or water. So if you cook 100g you get 100g on your plate,” he adds.
It also has a long shelf-life, of several months and it’s easy to keep at an ambient temperature too.
Epi & Co has developed a full range of products which target consumers who want to eat fewer animal proteins and who are looking for more plant-based products.
The raw materials that we use in our range of products are mostly sourced in France,” Cygler notes. “The wheat and raw chickpea materials come from France and a bit of Germany as well, because we are at the German border.” The products are made in Alsace, France.
“We realized that there is a real need for people to eat fewer animal by-products and we wanted to develop a range which can seduce most people who want to eat healthy, nutritious and tasty alternatives which you can easily cook and use very quickly and conveniently. The range consists of six different products. Some come with vegetable and seed inclusions and they perfectly fit for recipes in ethnic foods and traditional French cooking as well,” he explains.
Looking to the future, Cygler muses that there could be potential to expand the range. “It all started with one product, so there could definitely be room for further expansions to the product range. Maybe we will develop other recipes in the future. We certainly have the capabilities to develop different shapes and flavors, so as long as the demand is there, we can keep innovating in this space,” he muses.
We can also explore the feasibility with industry, since we can adapt the products on demand with “a la carte” options, meaning it is possible to develop specific shapes and recipes, according to a minimum quantity. “Production with private label is also possible,” adds Cygler.
Epi & Co is 100 percent part of Tereos. The manufacturing plant is based in Alsace, France, which is a prime location for wheat and corn ingredients. “We decided to develop this range from Alsace because we source wheat from Alsace and most of the raw materials used in these products at Epi & Co are sourced from or very close to Alsace,” Cygler concludes.