Meatless CEO names plant-based seafood ‘key’ to securing fish supply at Food Matters Live

November 17, 2021 — Nutritious foods to protect the environment and reduce obesity take center stage at Food Matters Live on November 16-17.

Following COP26 as “a crucial step”, the digital event brings together companies, manufacturers, retailers and start-ups to advance the conversation on sustainable food systems.

FoodIngredientsFirst chats with Jos Hugense, CEO of Meatless, ahead of his presentation at Food Matters Live, who shares his take on the plant-based market.

“The relative growth of the vegetarian market is spectacular and has never been seen before in the food industry. In the Netherlands and the UK, the growth percentages were above 25% in 2020. However, they still represent less than 3% of meat production.

He insists that if the plant-based market grows to 10% of meat consumption over the next decade, for example, scalability will be key.

“We need seriously efficient and sufficient production systems to meet demand,” he adds.

Meatless uses white rice fibers for applications such as its analogue white fish or its processed “chicken” (Credit: no meat).That could mean less use of separate proteins, more use of whole foods, more use of minimally processed, energy-efficient production, or more local sourcing of raw materials, he suggests.

Briony Mansell-Lewis, director of Food Matters Live, notes that while technology will play a key role in future food systems, innovation and investment will be key to achieving impact at scale.

Opportunity bathing
One area where Meatless sees a big opportunity is in plant-based fish. Recent innovation has focused on whitefish analogues, says Hugense. However, other types of high quality fish are emerging.

“Keep an eye out for analog fish,” Hugense advises. “It’s still a small part of vegetarian production, but it’s growing relatively fast and will be an important factor in the future.”

The ever-increasing demand for fish will have consequences for the availability of fish around the world, he adds. “There is a real need to improve the quality of solutions, such as surimi, to appease the demand for fish.”

Future Fish Analogs
Meatless produces a line of textured products made from whole foods like rice, peas, quinoa, wheat and beans. Its white rice fibers are used for applications such as its analogue white fish or its processed “chicken”.

The company’s salmon and tuna substitutes are also in their final stages of development, with the first prototypes due to be shown at Fi Europe in Frankfurt this winter. Final products are expected in the first or second quarter of 2022.

Earlier in March, Planteneers launched its first vegan and tuna alternative salmon for sushi applications. And last year, Nestlé launched Vuna, a plant-based alternative to tuna, revealing that more seafood analogues were on the way.

Hugense says efficient and sufficient production systems are needed to meet growing factory demand (Credit: meatless).Advance product quality
During his talk at Food Matters Live, Hugense will also provide advice on ways to improve plant-based products for scalability, as well as competitiveness and sustainability.

“We want to meet food companies, R&D teams, executives and sales executives to show them what we are doing,” says Hugense. “The use of plant-based products means promising new opportunities for better food production.”

“Fifteen years of innovation have brought Meatless to the position it holds today as the leading texture producer for the food industry. We can also produce at high volumes and at competitive prices, fueling rapidly growing vegetarian markets and demand for more plant-based solutions.

Among the questions he and his colleague Eric Tetteroo, senior technical sales manager, will ask food developers include: “Do you source your raw materials locally? How are your products more durable compared to other textures? Are you considering hybrid products? What do you think of cellular agriculture?

For Meatless, cellular agriculture has some potential in the future, but the sector is currently too small for the company as it is in its high growth phase.

Hugense predicts that it will be another decade before “serious market concepts” can be produced in large quantities.

Constantly improving texture
Plant-based meat substitutes are advancing rapidly thanks to new technologies such as 3D printing.

FoodIngredientsFirst recently witnessed Redefine Meat’s unveiling of the “technologically impossible” for plant-based meat – whole cuts of 3D-printed plant-based meat that “bleed” like traditional cuts of beef and lamb.

Additionally, Mane recently revealed the results of a 12-month study into the sensory characteristics of herbal products, which found that juiciness far outweighed other factors in the race to advance product formulas.

By Missy Green

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