Interview with our R&D Manager about the development of sustainable food concepts
More than ever, we are taking a conscious approach to nutrition and replacing animal products for vegetable alternatives. The range is also growing and becoming more tasteful. In recent years, the food industry has made great progress in the direction of sustainable and healthy food.
Did you know that a large part of that know-how comes from Belgium?
At SNICK EuroIngredients we work hard to develop innovative concepts to make food healthier and more sustainable, without compromising on taste. Snick does not focus directly on consumers but produces food components and blends for other food companies in Europe.
From vegetable whipped cream to vegan stew meat
"It's a typical Flemish habit not to do it, but we can be quite proud of our work." Says Thomas Verhaeghe, R&D manager at SNICK EuroIngredients. Thomas' team works closely with KU Leuven, University of Ghent and the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO). With the latter, the food company developed a plant-based whipped cream. In collaboration with a master's student industrial engineering at the University of Ghent, we are working on vegan stew meat.
"Our customers come from various industries. This results in an interesting cross-pollination.
We combine process technology from the meat industry with knowledge from other sectors to develop high-quality vegetarian products," says Thomas. The new generation of meat substitutes was preceded by years of innovative research. "Plant-based foods has been our focus for a long time, just as we sensed that the demand for sustainable, but flavorful foods would continue to grow."
Vegan Stew and vegan tuna developed in our R&D lab
Tasty and healthy
The first generation of meat substitutes were not always nutritious. "Today we succeed in developing quality vegetarian products with very little saturated fat, a lot of fiber and a high protein content.
A product that is just as healthy or even healthier than a piece of lean meat," says Thomas. This evolution came partly thanks to the Nutri-Score, which means that as a consumer you are always well informed about the nutritional value of a particular product.
Just improving the Nutri-Score of a product is not so difficult, but making food healthier without compromising on quality is a challenge. Salt, sugar and fats often play an important role in the taste, texture and shelf life of a product. "With a combination of innovative ingredients and the right process techniques, we manage to make these products tasty and healthy," says Thomas.
Snick Euroingredients also applies these techniques in cookies and desserts.
What about the criticism that soy is not so sustainable after all? "That is not quite so bad, it mainly depends on where you get the soy." Most of the soy used by SNICK EuroIngredients, comes from Europe, where there is no deforestation. Together with KU Leuven and ILVO the company is also working on a pilot project that investigates whether it is possible to cultivate soy for industrial applications in Belgium.