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Food innovation

Heura unveils new patent-pending technology to develop scalable clean label plant-based meat

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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Plant-based meat alternatives company Heura has developed a new patent-pending technology developed to deliver high quality, nutrient-dense and clean label vegan protein to consumers.

The patent for its Good Rebel Tech was filed on 19 April 2023. It will be the first scalable technology of its kind to add superior nutritional value to plant-based foods, the company said during a press briefing, and will help it in its mission of turning meat alternatives into ‘successors’ of animal-derived products. The company has main three goals at the core of this new technology: sustainability, feasibility and health.

According to recent consumer data from Toluna, one of the major barriers between consumers and meat alternatives is the use of artificial additives, with over 70% of those surveyed saying they don’t want to see them in the food they eat. The data also shows 66% of consumers look for products high in protein and 65% want to eat foods made with ingredients they are familiar with.

Heura said its ‘breakthrough’ tech taps into this consumer need, enabling it to produce plant-based meat products without a long list of additives.

The technology is “a relatively quite simple thermomechanical technique”, Heura’s Lead R&D Scientist Isa Fernández Farrés explained during the briefing. The tech uses controlled heat and mixing at an industrial scale and focusses on the micro molecule structures rather than macro or nano.  

This approach, she said, is quite different to the ‘trial-and-error’ style used in most plant-based meat production, which involves taking ingredients like gelling agents and binders, spices, additives, and textured vegetable proteins, and mixing them until a successful product is created.

chef cutting plant-based ham

Heura’s chef demonstrating how the company’s plant-based ham can be cut with a meat slicer.

plant-based food on a table

Heura’s plant-based ham and frankfurters.

Left: Heura’s chef demonstrating how the company’s plant-based ham can be cut with a meat slicer.

Right: Heura’s plant-based ham and frankfurters.

Using the new technology, Heura has developed two new products which it hopes to launch by the end of the fourth quarter in 2023: ham style slices and frankfurter sausages made from soy protein.

Both products are nutritiously superior to meat and other plant-based alternatives on the market, the company says. The frankfurters have a protein density of 72% and are much lower in saturated and unsaturated fats and carbohydrates than pork frankfurters. Unlike their animal-based counterpart they also contain fibre, making them more digestible. Heura chose to use soy protein over other proteins such as pea, as it has the highest digestibility.

In comparison to other plant-based equivalents, Heura’s product also has a much shorter list of ingredients, containing just water, soy protein isolate, extra virgin olive, radish, carrot and paprika flavour concentrates, lemon juice from concentrate and vitamin B12.

The ham slices have a similar short ingredients list, and were the most difficult products to make, the company says. While most ham alternatives available on the market are thick and break easily, Heura says its product has 70% protein density and can be cut into thin slices without breaking.

For now, Heura will focus on using this technology to make protein-rich products in the deli, cheese, and whole meats category, which are the most challenging to achieve. The technology however does also have the potential to make other categories more nutrient-dense, such as lower carb pasta.

The announcement marks one of many major achievements for the company in the past year – from securing a €31.4 million turnover in 2022, to launching its Good Rebel Tech, which as well as creating nutrient dense plant-based proteins using the whole plant, avoids complicated chemical processes and limits food waste.

In the UK, Heura has seen great success since its launch in Waitrose for Veganuary 2023. The retailer currently stocks its plant-based Chick’n, Chorizo Burgers and Chorizo Sausages, and hopes to bring more Heura products to the store in the near future.

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