Planteneers used the recent IFFA meat and meat alternatives exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, to show visitors new prospects beyond the meat category. This year’s event showed that plant-based alternatives and hybrid products are increasingly a matter of course for the meat products industry.
“The meat industry is reinventing itself. We need to meet consumer expectations in modern plant-based nutrition, while avoiding a cannibalization effect,” says Planteneers Product Manager Florian Bark. “Walking this tightrope is possible only with an expanded portfolio.”
Experts consider hybrid products an ideal middle way. For this category, sister companies Planteneers and Hydrosol have developed new stabilizing systems that make it easy for meat producers to reduce the animal content in the final product by half. They can thus benefit from the rising number of flexitarians, i.e. people who want to reduce but not eliminate the amount of meat they eat.
Using existing equipment better
Attractive potential is also promised by new product categories that can be manufactured readily with existing machinery.
“We see again and again how surprised meat producers are when we show them that they can also make cheese or fish alternatives with their existing equipment,” says Bark.
Fair visitors weren’t surprised just by the new production possibilities, but also by the quality of the plant-based products—whether it was a finely layered structure of the salmon alternative or the flavor and texture of the plant-based parmesan and feta.
“Fair visitors were very impressed by the bandwidth of our new product ideas,” he says.
The same goes for meat alternatives. For example, the plant-based alternative to beef tartare that Planteneers premiered at the IFFA was especially well received.
The Plantbaser: A new era in product development
Planteneers used this year’s IFFA to introduce PlantbaserTM. Using a touchscreen, fair visitors could try it themselves and put together a product the way they wanted it. The rapid growth in registrations reflects manufacturers’ lively interest in this uncomplicated approach to the development of new plant-based products.
“Plant-based was clearly the dominant topic at this year’s IFFA. About 80% of our conversations with visitors were about plant-based alternatives. New meat and sausage products came in second this year,” comments Dr. Dorotea Pein, Director of Product Management at Planteneers.
“Customers were very excited, not least because we are continually adding to the PlantbaserTM,” reports Dr. Pein. “We’re not just adding new products, but also new tools, like the shopping cart. A mobile version is also in the works which will let customers configure their product ideas on a smartphone or tablet.”
As an adjunct to in-house R&D departments, the PlantbaserTM makes it easier for mid-size companies to enter the plant-based market. Digital product development saves users a huge amount of time. They can reduce the number of coordination processes and get new products to market much faster.
Innovation development itself is also greatly simplified. Whether cheese and yogurt alternatives, burger patties, cold cuts or plant-based mayonnaise, within 15 to 20 minutes users can put together the plant-based product they want in a variety of categories. This makes product development possible around the world and around the clock, as customers in over 100 countries can attest. Users can see for themselves.
Since the start of the year four new product lines have been added. Alongside plant-based alternatives to feta, these include processed cheese preparations, in spreadable or triangular versions. The big advantage with them is that they contain none of the phosphates otherwise used as emulsifying salts.
Nuggets are another category. The detailed photos and videos on the site clearly show PlantbaserTM users the fibrous structure of the nuggets, as well as the breadings that can be selected as desired. Salami products will soon be added as a further category. By the end of the year, Planteneers hopes to have its entire product portfolio in the PlantbaserTM and so offer medium-sized producers even better support.
Planteneers GmbH, headquartered in Ahrensburg, Germany, develops and produces custom system solutions for plant-based alternatives to meat, sausage and fish products, as well as cheese, dairy products and deli foods. As a member of the independent, owner-operated Stern-Wywiol Gruppe with a total of 12 sister companies, Planteneers 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. As part of the Technology Center, the Plant Based Competence Center formed in 2019 is the creative pool for alternative solutions, and the heart of Planteneers. Customers also benefit from the Group’s international network of 17 subsidiaries and numerous qualified foreign representatives in the world's key markets, as well as the Group’s shared production facilities and own logistics resources. With revenues exceeding 500 million euros and some 1700 employees around the globe, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is one of the world's most successful international suppliers of food & feed ingredients.