CLOSING THE PROTEIN GAP

Textured thinking for tasty meat alternatives

By midway through this century, it is estimated that the world’s population will require an extra 265 million tons of protein. Developing sustainable alternative sources is vital to closing this gap. Meanwhile, around two-thirds of all vegetable proteins produced are fed to livestock such as cattle, pigs, and poultry. The transformation of plant protein into animal protein is a far from efficient process.

Bühler is at the forefront of the search for alternative protein sources and is actively developing the potential of textured vegetable products. They are protein-rich meat alternatives that are obtained from vegetable raw materials via the cooking extrusion process, with many now virtually indistinguishable from meat (like the vegetarian “burger” in the photo on the left) in terms of texture, taste, and color. Today, most textured vegetable proteins are soy-based, but Bühler is working closely with customers and key partners such as ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) to develop products from materials such as bean isolate, wheat gluten, sunflower seeds, and pulses. Worldwide production rates for pulses remain far lower than for corn, rice, or wheat, though they are protein-rich and need less water to cultivate. Bühler has developed innovative solutions to streamline every part of the production process for pulses, including cleaning, hulling, splitting, and sorting. The time is ripe to work together to invest in alternative proteins, not only to close the impending gap, but also because of consumer preferences. The ever-growing popularity of both vegetarian and vegan dishes among health- and environmentallyconscious flexitarian consumers is growing. Let’s give consumers alternatives they will enjoy with every bite. Hiltl

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