PARIS — Do the French fancy plant-based burger alternatives? Has the overall plant-based category taken hold in Europe? Judging by ingredient supplier booths at Food Ingredients Europe held Dec. 3-5 in Paris, the answer is oui.

Plant protein samples on the exposition floor came in several forms, including alternatives for burgers, tacos and sour cream. Flavors, colors and spices added twists to some samples.

Innovation in plant protein appears set to grow again in 2020. The average compound annual growth rate for food and beverage launches with a plant-based claim was 68% from 2014-18, according to Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands.

“This year (2019) it has absolutely exploded,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for Innova, in a Dec. 4 presentation at Fi Europe. “In my 25-plus years in the industry I’ve never seen anything pick up as fast as this. This has legs. It will be around forever.”

One word of caution came in a Dec. 5 newsletter from IMR International, an industrial market research and consulting company for food hydrocolloids based in San Diego.

“In terms of hydrocolloid relevance, visits and interviews conducted during day three confirmed the craze over plant-based food identified during days one and two: a déjá vu of the 'low-fat, no-fat craze' of years gone by, a lemming mentality headed for an inevitable correction,” the newsletter said about Fi Europe.

Judges at Fi Europe noticed the plant protein trend. Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis., won the Fi Innovation Award for plant-based innovation from Informa Markets for a Citri-Fi citrus fiber ingredient designed for meat alternatives.

Roquette veggie burgers

The Citri-Fi ingredient helps in binding fat and oil, said Brock Lundberg, Ph.D., president of research and development product application for Fiberstar. It also does not have the high saturated fat content found in other binders. The Citri-Fi ingredient for meat alternatives binds up to eight times its weight, and it does not break down under heat or moisture. It may be used in place of methylcellulose in meat alternatives.

The United States and Europe are the two biggest markets for meat alternatives, and the markets are strong in South America and Asia as well, Dr. Lundberg said.

Roquette, La Madeleine, France, at Fi Europe introduced two plant-based textured proteins designed to address consumer demand for sensory, diversity and sustainable nutritional improvement. Nutralys TP-C from peas and Nutralys TF-C from fava beans expand Roquette’s existing range of plant protein ingredients. The two new ingredients open new taste and texture options and foster further plant-based alternatives, including plant-based fish alternatives like “fish rillettes,” according to the company.

“The demand for plant-based foods, and especially for plant protein, is booming, and Roquette is very well-positioned to respond to the massive movement through its investments and product innovations,” said Jean-Philippe Azoulay, vice-president of pea and new proteins business line at Roquette.

Beneo, Mannheim, Germany, promoted its BeneoPro W-Tex textured wheat protein for use in meat substitute applications, including vegetarian burgers, nuggets, sausages and ready meals. A plant-based vegetarian burger contained 55% water, 32% textured wheat proteins, 6% rice starch and 5% egg white powder. Minor ingredients included salt, flavors, malt extract and pepper.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, at Fi Europe promoted how its various ingredients may be used to create meat alternatives. Besides protein, soybean concentrates and isolates add other benefits in water binding, fat/oil control, and texture and structure control. Edible beans are fully cooked and dehydrated and have a fast re-hydration time.

Exberry plant-based burger

The GNT Group B.V., Mierlo, The Netherlands, sampled a beef burger alternative that contained wheat protein and came with colored buns, blue mayonnaise and red mayonnaise, thanks to the company’s Exberry range of naturally sourced colors.

Tacos sampled at the booth for DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, a business of DuPont, featured milk alternatives and meat alternatives. Supro Max 5013 structured vegetable protein was marinated in a Korean gochujang hot pepper paste, gochugaru hot pepper flakes, smoked paprika and shichmi tagarashi (Japanese seven spice blend) and Methocel. Vegan mayonnaise came with sriracha sauce. Fermented vegetables and radishes were marinated in orange juice and vinegar with pepper habanero. The entire composition then was served on a tortilla spread with a cream cheese alternative based on Trupro 2000 pea protein and a Grindsted stabilizer system.

Hydrosol GmbH & Co. KG and DeutscheBack GmbH & Co. KG, both businesses of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe and based in Ahrensburg, Germany, combined their efforts to produce a flatbread item containing meat and dairy alternatives. A gluten-free crust contained rice. An almond-based sour cream alternative served as a topping. Bacon bits alternatives contained potato protein and pea protein.