Scientists managed to recreate the taste of grilled meat for vegans and vegetarians

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Many of the people who decide to stop eating animal products They do it so as not to threaten the life of these living beings. However, some continue to long for that particular flavor and make a great effort not to relapse into the carnivorous eating habits. But how do you get the beef flavor, obtained from cattle, in products based on protein peas, soybeans, black beans, sweet potatoes or beets? In part, thanks to artificial intelligence.

That says an important Swiss world fragrance manufacturer which advises and supplies multiple startups and food giants interested in this expanding market. Recreate the flavor of veal in a vegetarian hamburger It takes a lot of work with flavors, textures, colors, resistance to cooking or taste sensations to make these products look like meat.

“What is very complex is find a protein that looks like meat from a vegetable”, He explained to AFP Emmanuel Butstraen, president of the company’s Aromas division. One of the great difficulties is avoiding unpleasant aftertaste And to explain it better, he gave an example: “Pea proteins tend to release a lot of bitterness and the taste buds are very sensitive to it.”

“The vegetable proteins may leave green notes (reminiscent of green apples or pears), an unpleasant taste, or even a feeling of dryness “he said for his part Jerome Barra, director of innovation, specialized in taste technologies.

To mask them or compensate them with others flavors, the experts are based on a huge library of ingredients that is like “a piano with 5,000 keys”, he described, from which make up the flavors. Since there are hundreds of possible combinations, they resorted to the artificial intelligence.

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The taste of roast

“The artificial intelligence it can generate millions of tracks ”, commented Barra enthusiastically, because the algorithms allow to review the flavors, but also to integrate the consumer preferences, technical or regulatory limitations and thus filter the ingredient combinations from which the experts will create flavors that they then test in the kitchen with a chef.

The artificial intelligence allowed them to develop a aroma that reproduces the taste of grilled meat, and the algorithms helped find the grilled notes that exist in the plant world. “The vegetarian food represent a very important shift in consumption ”, he stated Gilbert Ghostine, CEO of the Swiss company, for whom the alternatives to meat already dairy products are part of the trends with the greatest growth potential in nutrition.

According to a study by the bank Swiss credit, the market for alternatives to meat and the dairy products It represents about 14,000 million dollars (11,800 million euros) worldwide and will reach 143,000 million dollars (120,500 million euros) by 2030 and 1.4 trillion dollars (1.1 trillion euros) by 2050.

With the increase in flexitarian diets (based on fruits and vegetables and occasionally meat and fish and their derivatives) and concern about the carbon footprint of the meat, the market for vegetarian alternatives is booming. In this boom, play an important role American startups What Beyond Meat O Impossible Foods, but also food giants like Nestle O Unilever, who have signed up for the race.

“The steaks and veggie burgers they are highly processed foods whose value depends on the ingredients that compose them and that varies from one product to another ”, he declared to AFP Muriel Jaquet, nutritionist at the Swiss Nutrition Society.

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That body, which works with the Swiss Ministry of Health, recommends consuming a daily serving fleshy, fish, eggs or alternatives such as tofu or seitan, and advises verifying the content of salt, sugar and fat in vegetarian fillets, opting for “those that have a level of protein interesting”.

After a rise of 11.4% in 2019, sales of meat substitutes They decelerated in 2020, with an increase of 1.3%, but are expected to rebound by 5.1% in 2021 and 6.3% in 2022, according to the study office Euromonitor International.

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