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FAMILIAR SOURCE: Cargill to launch corn protein isolates for plant-based meat formulation

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Corn protein is a great protein for meat alternatives because it’s got a great neutral flavor profile and a really good performance. It’s particularly high in leucine, so it blends well with pea protein.

ELAINE WATSON: Cargill will have commercial quantities of Non-GMO corn protein isolate – “a new protein from a familiar source” – available by late 2022 as it seeks to capitalize on growing demand for plant-based proteins, say execs, who are evaluating manufacturing locations for the ingredient. Cargill… has been researching corn protein for a while, Melissa Machen, said protein senior technical services specialist…

While some companies produce zein, a water-insoluble protein called prolamin that’s extracted from corn and can form edible lms used in confectionery and other products, Cargill is producing something different, she said. “The challenge has been understanding the way to extract the protein and still make it functional so it can work in different food applications.”

Asked about formulations, Cargill believes its corn protein – which has good gelling and water binding properties – has potential in myriad applications from snacks, pasta and baked goods to dairy and meat alternatives, where it can aid with water and fat retention as well as protein fortication, said Machen. “We’re not only thinking about North American launches, but across the globe.

Corn protein is a great protein for meat alternatives because it’s got a great neutral flavor profile and a really good performance. It’s particularly high in leucine, so it blends well with pea protein [for a balanced amino acid prole, as pea is higher in lysine]”…

When it comes to plant-based meat formulation, Cargill has done a lot of work on soy, pea, and rice, but has also road-tested a variety of other proteins from faba beans to chickpeas, which has a neutral taste and some nice gelling properties, said Machen…

When it comes to flavor, she said, it’s not just about which ‘meaty’ flavors to add, but how the fat and the protein impact the flavor. “Overcoming beanie or grassy or green notes from some plant proteins is key.”

Asked whether Impossible Foods’ flagship heme protein – which imparts flavor and color to its burgers – sets its products apart from rivals, she said: “I would say there is a discernible difference that the heme adds, but I would say that other colors and flavors are definitely making advancements”…

As for perceptions of plant-based meat, consumers still tell researchers that conventional meat has the edge when it comes to taste, texture, and bite, said Mark Fahlin, business development manager for dairy and plant-based at Cargill. However, they generally believe that plant-based meat is healthier, he said.

So while “taste is still king,” formulators are under pressure to clean up labels and improve the nutritional proles of their wares, something that might not be a major issue now, but could become more of a factor as the market matures and shoppers scrutinize labels more closely, he speculated…

As to what ‘healthier’ looks like in plant-based meat, for some consumers it’s about the number of recognizable ingredients on the label, or avoiding hormones and antibiotics, while for others it’s about more ber, less saturated fat and cholesterol, or fewer calories, he said.  SOURCE…

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