Plant-based meat is having more than a moment. Bloomberg expects that plant-based meat and fish could account for 5% of the total protein market by 2030, reaching global sales of $74 billion. The trend was apparent at PROCESS EXPO earlier this month – several of the education sessions were devoted to alternative proteins, and one of the live demonstration production lines was churning out plant-based chicken nuggets.
But as more players enter the plant-based meat market, they’re discovering a significant roadblock: traditional meat processing equipment doesn’t meet the requirements of plant-based products. As a result, many producers are having to look outside the meat industry for appropriate equipment. And many of them are finding it on bakery processing lines.
Why is bakery equipment better than meat processing equipment for plant-based products?
In a recent interview with Food Industry Executive, Christie Lagally, founder and CEO of plant-based food company Rebellyous Foods, summed up why meat processing equipment doesn’t fit the bill:
“Currently, most mix-and-form production of plant-based meat is done in meat processing facilities using equipment like bowl choppers, tumblers, and conveyors — equipment that’s intended to deconstruct the animal carcass and bring it down into smaller pieces. This is literally the opposite of what we want in the plant-based meat industry.”
Rather than the “subtractive” breaking down of a carcass, making plant-based meat products requires an “additive” process. All of the ingredients, including fats and emulsifiers, must be mixed together uniformly, without undesirable temperature changes, overworking, or underworking. This is exactly what’s required in baking processes, and it’s what bakery equipment is specialized to do. (Many plant-based meat producers even refer to their mixtures as “dough.”)
As specialists in baking equipment, we have all of the equipment you need to process plant-based doughs, from mixers to dough dividers and depositors. We also have experience working with plant-based mixtures, including protein-enhanced bakery products and vegetable-based pizza crusts.
For more information about our products and services, or to discuss your plant-based meat project, contact us today.