The Rise of Plant-based Nutrition

Beneo, one of the leading manufacturers of functional ingredients worldwide, participated as a Gold Partner in the Virtual Exhibition Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Europe, 8-9 June where its experts shared their knowledge and experience through great presentations.

Read our interview with Olivier Chevalier (Senior Product Manager Functional Proteins), Benoit Tavernier (Product Manager Rice Ingredients), Myriam Snaet (Head of Market Intelligence & Consumer Insights), and Pierre Donck (Commercial Director Functional Proteins) on their insightful contributions.

B2F: Myriam, your presentation was named “Plant Excitement – the rise of plant-based nutrition”. Why Plant Excitement?

Myriam Snaet:  Plant-based nutrition has been on the rise for a few years and will lead to a fundamental shift in how we are going to eat and drink in the future. The presentation elaborates on the drivers of plant-based nutrition, why European consumers are interested in it, and explores the trendiest segments of plant-based innovation.

B2F: Benoit, “From plant to pleasure: silky dairy-free desserts with rice ingredients” was the title of your speech. What was the main focus of this presentation?

Benoit Tavernier: Plant-based dairy alternatives form an important part of the rise of plant-based nutrition.  During the past years, a significant increase in dairy launches with a “plant-based” claim could be noticed. One of the challenges in dairy alternatives is obtaining a good texture and body. Clean label rice flour and rice starches offer a great solution to also introduce the indulgent mouthfeel in plant-based dairy alternatives.

B2F: Olivier, your contribution was named “Who says you need meat to make a great dish? Cooking at its best with wheat protein” and you presented live cooking. Would you tell us a little bit about that?

Olivier Chevalier: Yes, indeed, during my presentation I showed that there is no need to be a highly-skilled chef to create meat-free meals that deliver, both in terms of taste and texture. BENEO’s portfolio of textured wheat proteins (BeneoPro W-Tex) offers a wide range of solutions to create your most tasty meat substitutes, be it meat-free burgers, nuggets, BBQ merguez, emulsified sausages, chicken-like strips, vegetable patties, or even complete ready meals. BENEO’s textured wheat proteins can be easily used in any dish recipe without adapting the cooking methods.

B2F: What is the outlook for extending your range of textured proteins? And does BENEO have more ambitions in the domain of new plant proteins?

Pierre Donck: Since the launch of our Textured Wheat Protein solutions, BENEO has continuously been working on extending the range of textured proteins. First, we optimized the wheat-based versions (our so-called first-generation Textured Wheat proteins) working with different particle sizes and protein contents. This allows obtaining optimal functional characteristics (water-holding, texture, color) in specific applications such as a vegetarian burger, vegetarian nuggets, vegetarian bolognese sauce, or ragout. Today this range contains 4 items with different particle sizes and protein contents.  However, as the consumer palate for plant-based foods continues to evolve, a wider variety of meat alternative foods are now being created.

To meet growing demand, producers are wanting even more versatility when it comes to fine-tuning their plant-based product’s organoleptic profile (its taste, appearance, smell, and mouthfeel) and its texture. To facilitate this process, BENEO is extending and developing its range of second-generation textured wheat-based proteins. Here we are combining wheat proteins with other pulse ingredients or fibers. This is needed to elaborate the functional properties required for new vegetarian application such a fish imitation and fibrous meat alternatives like the chicken filet and beef steak imitation, pulled pork meat, stew, … in order to meet the required consumer demand.

For the coming 12 months, BENEO’s aim is to launch more new textured wheat-based items combining different raw materials & fibers in order to bring new functional properties to service the growing demand for plant-based solutions.

Is BENEO ambitious in the domain of new plant-based proteins? Yes, we are! We are continuously scouting the market for new plant-based proteins – and the same applies to other alternative proteins. Currently, BENEO is assessing several plant protein options and we expect that in the coming year we will be able to bring new plant protein ingredients onto the market. In this scouting we consider pulses, cereals & oilseeds to extract protein ingredients.  More to come very soon.

B2F- Which are the most recent areas of plant-based innovation?

Pierre Donck: The most recent areas of plant-based innovation are:

  • Rising development in the domain of soy/wheat-free ingredients.
  • More focus on legume-based plant protein solutions.
  • Rising interest in alternative plant proteins (short/mid-term) with major investments into single-cell & insect proteins (mid/long term developments).

Key elements for plant-based developments are Non-GMO, Hypo allergenicity, locally sourced ingredients, sustainable, nutritionally balanced, and specific functional properties.

Myriam Snaet:  Replacing meat’s taste & texture started in familiar formats like burgers and nuggets, but producers look into more advanced imitations, such as whole cuts (e.g. ribs) to offer the flexitarian consumer a convenient alternative for meat in their traditional meals. Fish is another area of development. Although considered healthy, many consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of the global fishing industry on our oceans.

Also, the dairy alternatives sector is very busy, and innovation is centered around dairy alternative desserts and cheese. Indulgence, excellent texture, and cleaner labels are key to success in this segment with premium products.

Another area of innovation is vegan snacks, often considered as more healthy. Innovating snacking categories are chocolate, baking mixes, and cereal bars. BENEO has several solutions to support snack producers: rice-based ingredients can replace the dairy ingredients in chocolate, or texturized wheat protein in cereals for chewy texture and high protein claims.

About the speakers

Myriam Snaet

Graduated with a Master degree in Roman languages at University of Leuven, Belgium, Myriam built up over 20 years of market analysis & consumer research experience.  She started her career in market research started in a B2C / FMCG environment, in the Laundry & Homecare division of Henkel Benelux. From there she moved to BENEO, focussing specifically on Market & Consumer Insights in the B2B area. Myriam heads up a team of experts dedicated to market analysis, trends, consumer insights related to health and nutritional benefits.

Benoit Tavernier

As a young graduate and holding a Master of Science in Bio-Engineer Agricultural Sciences (KU Leuven, BE), Benoit Tavernier started his career within BENEO in 2015. His first role was junior sales manager for the Animal Nutrition Department, since 2016 he’s product manager Specialty Rice Ingredients within BENEO. In this role, Benoit is responsible for managing and further developing BENEO’s rice flour, rice starch, and rice protein portfolio. Furthermore, he provides the sales team with appropriate product support!

Olivier Chevalier

Graduated Bio-engineer Master in 1989, Olivier has always been working for ingredients producing companies in R&D or technico-commercial positions. He has been involved with proteins for 15 years of his career which allowed him to develop his experience in this field of ingredients and their applications, more specifically in the meat, savory and meat substitutes ones. Working for BENEO since 2014 firstly as “Business development manager meat applications” and now as “Senior Product Manager Functional proteins”, he was fully involved in the wheat texture proteins project from the beginning.

Pierre Donck
Commercial Director Functional Proteins

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