The Recipe for Successful Alternative Protein Products: Prioritizing Taste, Texture and Structure

For consumers to make repeat purchases of alternative products, they want experiences that deliver on taste, texture and structure. How are food-tech companies achieving this, and what are the key drivers to create a delicious alternative protein product, ready for mass market adoption?

“We are all united in the challenge to create more sustainable, healthier options without compromising on crave-ability and overall product performance.  Some have cracked components, but what we long for are the set of ingredients and their combination that unlocks the entire experience,” shares Sara Stabelfeldt, Director of Innovation at Schreiber Foods

Future Food-Tech speaks to five pioneering alternative protein Founders and CSOs to hear how they are prioritizing taste and texture in their product development in 2022. The innovators reveal which other pivotal areas they are focusing on to bring superior alternative protein products to mass markets in 2022.

“For any alternative protein company to achieve a realistic meat-like product, the markers typically tackled are taste and texture”, says Ron Sicsic, Co-Founder and CSO at Plantish.

Improving the Texture in Alternative Dairy

Perfect Day makes milk protein that is nutritionally identical to protein from cow’s milk, but made using flora fermentation instead of animals. Tim Geistlinger, CSO explains the role of texture in improving Perfect Day’s animal-free milk to develop a product for both dairy lovers and plant-based consumers:

“Perfect Day’s innovative animal-free whey protein unlocks the texture and taste of milk for more sustainable, no-compromise products across the entire dairy aisle and beyond. Products made with Perfect Day in market now lean on our molecularly-identical protein to solve essential characteristics for mouthfeel, creaminess, water binding, emulsion capability, foam stability, water binding, air cell stability, nutrition, and more.”

Enhancing Texture in Alternative Meats

Next Meats combines Japan’s unique art of product-making with taste to create products that will enable a more sustainable society.

Hideyuki Sasaki, CEO shares the role of continued research and product development to produce texture that replicates, and exceeds the meat counterpart:

“When we were developing our signature Next Yakiniku barbecue meats, we spent most of the time perfecting the texture. We are still deeply invested in the research of how to replicate the exact mouthfeel of meat – in fact we just released our newest version of the Next Yakiniku Short-Rib this October with improved size, flavor, and a firmer, even more realistic texture.”

Replicating Texture in Alternative Fish

Plantish creates boneless fish whole-cuts made entirely out of plants. Ron Sicsic, Co-Founder and CSO shares how scientists have developed Plantish Salmontm packed with protein, Omega-3, and healthy fats that mimics the fibrous texture of salmon wholecuts:

“Taste and texture are extremely important parts of the entire food and eating experience that companies have been working on for decades. Isolating taste alone is not enough to get the desired mouthfeel, and same goes for texture – it’s so important to use the right plant proteins to achieve the fibrous strands meant to replicate the complex texture of animal muscle.”

Overcoming Challenges in Texture in Egg Alternatives

Evo Foods is using cutting-edge science and technology to create a next generation of plant-based substitutes for animal products and created one of Asia’s first plant-based eggs. Kartik Dixit, Co-Founder and CEO shares how the company is developing products that are nutritious, affordable and available globally:

“We are aiming to disrupt the mammoth $227B global egg market which contributes massively towards emissions, zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance. Plant-based egg as a category is vastly untapped and underserved (evident from the fact that there are fewer companies working on it) because of the obvious challenges in having the right balance between taste, texture, functionality and most importantly affordability. Eggs are the cheapest source of protein globally and more nutrient dense so replacing it requires extensive work on the product end and it needs to achieve the right price for adoption.”

Improving Nutrition

A clear health benefit of alternative protein products is the ability to create a cleaner, more nutritious alternative to its meat or dairy counterpart.

“At Change Foods, not only can we replicate the taste and performance of dairy foods, we are able to improve upon them by keeping what we want (e.g. protein) and skipping what we don’t (e.g. cholesterol),” notes Irina Gerry, CMO at Change Foods

Focusing on Structure

In addition to taste and texture, structure is another key consideration to develop the next generation of alternative protein products. New technologies are enabling entrepreneurs to replicate the structure of meat and fish in plant-based products.

“At Plantish, we are focusing on yet another marker which most companies in the alternative protein space are not yet working on: structure. Without compromising on taste and texture, we built a proprietary technology to tackle the structure of fish, to create a whole-cut, boneless fillet. We are building a new generation of seafood that tastes, looks and behaves like the real thing,” says Ron Sicsic, Co-Founder and CSO at Plantish.

Achieving Mass Market Adoption

Pioneers behind alternative protein products are striving for products to be adopted by returning consumers as they look to bolster market growth. Innovators want to reach both consumers who have already adopted a plant-based lifestyle yet also consumers who want to eat less meat and dairy in their diet for ethical, sustainable and cost-saving reasons to unlock bigger market opportunities. By launching and developing alternative products that appeal to a wider audience, alternative protein companies can make the greatest impact.

“2022 will be the year of new alternative protein product launches – further driving momentum in the sector. Across the different production platforms – plant based, precision fermentation derived, fungal, and cell culture – we expect to see numerous new products provided to consumers, either at pilot scale (in the case of cultivated meat) or meaningful scale (in plant-based),” details Ryan Rakestraw, Director, Temasek

“Product performance, including texture, is critical to consumer adoption of alternative proteins. If a product does not meet expectations adoption will be limited, as few prioritize sustainability over taste. Nowhere is the gap as wide as in plant-based cheese, where plant proteins fail to deliver the melt and stretch of dairy cheese, “details Irina Gerry, CMO at Change Foods

Nobell Foods is leveraging biotechnology to crate the next generation of cheese as it prepares to reach global markets:

 “The key to changing our food system is to create products that deliver on taste, texture and cost. Not just one or two of these things, but all three of them simultaneously. Bioengineering is an incredible tool that could allow us to reach for all three; the ability to make functional proteins that are not readily found in the plant kingdom will give alternative dairy, meat and eggs a real chance at competing with animal-based products and reaching the mass market,” says Magi Richani, CEO and Founder of Nobell Foods

By investing in infrastructure to enable scale, companies are preparing for widespread consumer adoption of alternative protein products in 2022 and beyond.

“To make alternative meats a mainstream option for consumers, we believe taste and price are equally important. Currently we are constructing our own sustainable factory to manufacture our products and lower prices, and are researching every day to improve and broaden our flavors for customers around the world,” adds Hideyuki Sasaki, CEO at Next Meats

Experience it in San Francisco

 Delegates at the upcoming Future Food-Tech summit in San Francisco will have the chance to:

  • Try Next Meats’ Next Yakiniku barbecue meats during the networking lunch break
  • Hear from Perfect Day’s The Urgent Company on the topic of how D2C and Ecommerce is changing the way we eat
  • See Plantish products up close in the exhibition area
  • Watch Evo Foods cook and prepare a nutritious meal using their egg alternative
  • Meet Change Foods in the Start-Up TechHub
  • Watch Magi Richani, Founder of Nobell Foods speak about recreating the entire sensory experience of animal products
  • See who is crowned winner of the Innovation Challenge with Danone North America to improve the texture and melting properties of plant-based cheese

The early bird rate for the summit ends January 27. The full program, speaking faculty and delegate registration are available now at