Flavour options needed for plant-based product

The Alternative Butcher is on a mission to provide delicious, plant-based meat options to the world.

Following more than a year of research and experimenting, the Toronto-based start-up developed its novel meat alternative product, resulting in texture versatility equal to that of meat, with more protein than chicken, says co-founder Adrian Pascu.

With an unflavoured product, the company wanted to expand its taste offerings to provide customers with more variety. They also wanted to explore options for textures to enhance mouth-feel. The product is prepared by extrusion of a proprietary blend of plant protein flours.

“We enlisted the help of Niagara College to identify potential post-process procedures that can help us bring our product to market,” explains Pascu.

The Alternative Butcher partnered with the food scientists at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre to develop flavour options for the meat-alternative product, as well as conduct a regulatory assessment, and create a nutrition facts table for the product label.

The research team developed six flavours, including BBQ, Honey Garlic, Teriyaki, Smokey, Italian and Sundried Tomato. “Secondly, we learned that our base product can be made into texture profiles that might be more commonly seen in the grocery store with meat,” says Pascu.

Trang Hoang (Tracy), a research assistant with Research & Innovation and an NC student in the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program, works on The Alternative Butcher project in the CFWI Innovation Centre labs.

As a result of the texture research, The Alternative Butcher is now procuring machinery in order to scale up some of the techniques and apply them to their production process. They are currently working with co-manufacturers and short-listing flavours and textures with future prospects.

“Working with the research team at Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division was beneficial for both parties. We learned a lot about our product in ways we didn’t really think of,” Pascu. “They provided us with a different perspective and helped determine some limitations of our product.”

Some funding was provided through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) – Interactive Visits, which provides up to 20 hours of access to the equipment, facilities, and expertise of NC’s Technology Access Centre (TAC) – in this case, the CFWI Innovation Centre – to solve a specific business or technical challenge.

This is one example of the applied research capabilities offered by the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre. To learn more about the full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes, visit the website.