Herba Ingredients and Dutch consortium develop fava bean potential
20 Jun 2022 --- Herba Ingredients is utilizing the fava bean for its latest project involving a Dutch consortium of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives developing raw materials from farm to fork.
Using a protein extrusion process, Herba has converted the ingredient to be used in a range of meat analog products across the Netherlands, which have been available since February.
The partners in the consortium are farmer organizations and cooperatives; ZLTO, CZAV and Agrifirm. Herba Ingredients is the ingredient producer, and the meat replacer producer is Me-at.
Speaking to FoodingredientsFirst, Arjan Geerlings, Ph.D, marketing and new product development manager at Herba Ingredients, highlights the importance of working in the consortium and says it has allowed a faster development of the products and the ingredients used.
“Fava beans grow very well in the Netherlands, with good yields. There are also many different fava bean varieties known, and we already knew that between one variety and the other, you find quite some differences in functionality, protein levels, taste, color and so on.”
“Through this collaboration with different farmers, in the first year, we grew more than 40 varieties of fava bean,” Geerlings continues. “We then went on to test them in our lab and pilot plant to discover the most promising varieties through protein concentration and protein texturization.”
A trial and error process
Following this testing process, Herba then sent the samples to its partner in the consortium, Me-at, which later went on to develop the meat replacement products.
Once feedback from the consortium was received, Herba could add two different varieties to industrial production trials to fine-tune the process to obtain the best ingredients to make meat replacement products.
Fast forward to February this year, and the first products using Herba Ingredients were launched in Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. Notably, Albert Heijn is also responsible for most of the meat replacement products in the Netherlands, adds Geerlings.
The plant-based burgers, sausages and mince meat under the supermarket brand have been met with success, according to Geerlings, who adds that the “taste is so similar to meat you can hardly tell the difference between them and real meat.”
Beyond meat replacements
For Herba Ingredients, being part of the consortium and developing the fava bean as a viable ingredient was a “game-changer.”
“It has enabled us to obtain the correct knowledge of fava bean varieties, and we are now able to grow them with specific farmers,” notes Geerlings.
Additionally, the varieties used do not need a lot of water, so they are both good for the environment and the farmers, he adds. “They are 100% Dutch with a great taste and locally produced,” Geerlings continues, lamenting that these fava ingredients “tick many boxes for the flexitarian consumer.”
“They are also allergen-free, soy-free and locally grown: good for the entire chain.”
“The consortium helps to develop the right raw materials and enables us to fine-tune the whole process. You can make good products locally, grown in locally produced areas and have helped in the transition toward a society that is consuming less meat and more plant protein,” he underscores.
Although the products have been on the market for a few months, the opportunities ahead are abundant.
“We hope to involve more farmers in the early stages and look at improving the crop yield of our ingredients to get more protein from the fields,” he explains. “Optimizing the cultivation of the fava beans means we can also reduce the need for fertilizers.”
But it doesn’t stop at meat analogs, according to Geerlings. He reveals that Herba is on track to develop plant-based beverages, egg replacements and cheese with high protein.
“These concepts, of course, require different ingredients, different proteins, which is also a direction we can explore within our R&B teams in the future,” he comments.
Fava gains ground
Several key ingredient players have been exploring fava bean’s potential over the past few months.
As the plant-based protein category evolves, industry is taking a leap forward in refining product development toward more authentic meat analogs and vegan-friendly NPD.
One recent example is Chr. Hansen’s Vega Boost culture which is made from fava beans. The cream cheese, which has a similar nutrition composition to animal dairy, was developed in partnership with Givaudan, Ingredion and AAK.
In similar developments, Nutris Group recently opened what it hails as the “first European hybrid factory” for the production of plant-based ingredients from fava beans and potatoes in Novi Senkovac, Croatia.
Beneo also made a €50 million (US$52.6 million) investment in a pulse processing site based in Offstein, Germany, further strengthening its plant-based portfolio. The site will produce protein-rich pulse ingredients. Initially, it will focus on protein concentrate, starch rich flour and hulls from fava beans, with the option to process other pulses in the future.
By Elizabeth Green
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