Plant-based meat and sausage alternatives remain in high demand by consumers. And interestingly, this product category has scarcely been impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the contrary, awareness of the importance of sustainable and balanced nutrition is rising, worldwide. Industry experts expect to see continuous growth in plant-based alternative products in the coming years.

“Whether for ethical or environmental reasons, reduced meat consumption is the future of the food industry. This is even more important in view of the need to supply a growing world population with sustainably sourced, protein-rich meat alternatives,” says Dr. Matthias Moser, managing director, Hydrosol. 

This specialist for stabilizing and texturing systems is now working in close collaboration with raw materials supplier All Organic Treasures (AOT). The goal of the cooperation is to combine the expertise of both companies and offer customers in the plant-based meat alternative space a wider range of products with individualized and exclusive solutions. Likewise, the focus is on allergen- and GMO-free protein sources with a positive image, like sunflower. 

“Our own Sunflower Family brand is already successful in food retail with the SonnenblumenHACK® product. We have built a special reputation and capabilities in the area of sunflower protein-based vegan products, like burger ready mixes,” notes Fabian Breisinger, Managing Director AOT. “Our plant-based proteins, especially Heliaflor®, are derived through the partial de-oiling of high-quality raw materials. During production we take special care to protect their beneficial properties. As a result, our products retain their native protein structure and content of important nutrients like B vitamins, secondary plant substances and minerals. This distinguishes them from conventional protein products. The functional properties, especially those of our sunflower protein, are further significantly affected only by the production process.”

The proteins are a by-product of sunflower oil manufacture, so there are clear advantages in terms of sustainability. Hydrosol uses three different texturates for the production of meat and sausage alternatives. These include:

… a dry texturate for plant-based mince like burger patties;

… a dry texturate with fibrous texture for foods like nuggets; and

… a wet texturate with a structure similar to muscle tissue for plant-based filet strips. 

“Plant-based muscle tissue alternatives remain a big challenge for the industry,” notes Hydrosol Product Manager Florian Bark. “Their authentic meat-like structure gives wet texturates from plant protein great potential. With the expertise of AOT as manufacturer of these sunflower protein wet texturates, and our knowledge of stabilization and texturing of plant-based meat alternatives, we can develop a broad spectrum of individual product solutions that give our customers unique selling propositions on the market.” Another plus point is that the texturates are available in conventional as well as organic versions.

There remains the challenge of getting the color and flavor of the sunflower texturates just right, for example to avoid unpleasant aftertastes.

“Sunflower texturates are naturally dark. For sausages, burgers and other ground meat alternatives that’s not a problem, in fact it’s a benefit. But for nuggets or filet strips that are supposed to be like chicken, a light color is naturally preferable,” Bark notes. “We can adjust for this very well through combination with other protein concentrates. In our Plant Based Competence Center we have already been getting very good results in a range of application tests.”

The foundation for the collaboration by AOT and Hydrosol was laid last year. At the IFFA, Hydrosol presented burger patties based on a sunflower texturate from AOT for the first time. 

Hydrosol is the exclusive sales partner for this burger patty in the food retail convenience products category and the food service and catering segment. With the future blending of the knowledge of both companies, Hydrosol will go a step further and work closely with AOT right from the development of texturates.

“This way we can create exactly the texturates that our industry customers need for their final products. This exclusivity is of immense benefit to all concerned,” reports Bark. 

Dr. Moser adds, “At a time when meatless products are steadily gaining importance, we want to use German and European raw materials to bring to market sustainable products that are free of soy and wheat. The collaboration with a company like AOT, with its extensive expertise in the sustainable manufacture of plant-based proteins, is thus a logical step for our future portfolio growth.”

About Hydrosol: 

Hydrosol GmbH & Co. KG headquartered in Ahrensburg near Hamburg, Germany, is a fast-growing international supplier of food stabilizers, with subsidiaries around the world. Its specialists develop and produce tailor-made stabiliser systems for dairy products, ice cream and desserts, delicatessen foods and ready meals, as well as meat, sausage and fish products. The company also supplies solutions for beverages, and for vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products. With its international network of 17 affiliates and numerous qualified foreign representatives, the company is represented in the world's key markets. 

As a subsidiary of the independent, owner-operated Stern-Wywiol Gruppe with a total of 12 sister companies, Hydrosol can make use of many synergies. The company has access to the knowledge of some 100 R&D specialists and to the extensive applications technology of the large Stern-Technology Center in Ahrensburg, Germany. It also benefits from shared production facilities and the Group's own logistics resources, so it can offer customers a high degree of flexibility and innovation capabilities. The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is one of the world's most successful international suppliers of food & feed ingredients. 

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