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30/05/2019 – News / Food Processing / Technology / Smart Protein / Plant-based / Firmenich / Switzerland

Firmenich introduces new ‘Smart Protein’ solutions


Building on the growing vegan and vegetarian movement, Swiss fragrance and flavours giant Firmenich has introduced a comprehensive portfolio of ‘Smart Protein’ solutions, including ingredients and delivery technologies designed to create great-tasting plant-based food and beverages.


Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1895, Firmenich is today the world’s largest privately-owned perfume and taste company. And the firm is clearly keen to leverage on its mastery of taste, alongside its world-class science and in-depth consumer understanding, in order to make gains in the swiftly expanding plant-based segment. 


“Plant-based protein continues to go mainstream, as many consumers recognise that less meat in their diet is good for them and for the planet,” observed Emmanuel Butstraen, President of Firmenich Flavors. “As alternative proteins often disappoint in terms of taste and mouth-feel, our ‘Smart Protein’ solutions are designed to enrich the total eating experience, addressing all product development needs – from great taste and aroma to nutrition and functionality.”


“Fatty succulence and juiciness”


Building on years of research and collaboration with experts, Firmenich’s new portfolio addresses the key challenges associated with plant-based proteins, from off notes and bitterness to perceived dryness and overall desirability. In the savoury segment, Firmenich’s expertise in taste modulation and delivery technologies offers the ‘fatty succulence and juiciness typical of meat proteins, which are generally missing in their plant-based equivalents’, the firm said in a statement. As a result, Firmenich has achieved remarkable success in a wide range of applications, from classical meat analogues such as vegetarian burgers and sausages, all the way to vegan cheeses and seafood alternatives.


Addressing “bitterness, grittiness and lack of creaminess”


Extending this innovation to sweet goods and beverages, Firmenich combines a wealth of proprietary technologies, to address the challenges of texture control, flavour release and minimise ingredient interactions during processing. Today, Firmenich’s experts have tailored solutions “to address bitterness, grittiness and lack of creaminess in plant-based protein yogurts, beverages and fortified bars,” the company said.


The launch of Firmenich’s ‘Smart Protein’ capabilities follows a string of recent acquisitions, including Campus – an innovator in natural functional ingredients. “Campus brings an exciting dimension to our Smart Proteins expertise,” commented Mark Bailey, Vice President of Global Business Development. “By combining our capabilities, we are setting ourselves up to offer the most comprehensive range of flavour and functional ingredient solutions for protein applications, cutting across animal and plant-based products.”


Promoting sustainable protein options for all


Firmenich, which recorded an annual turnover of 3.7 billion Swiss Francs (US$3.66bn) in the year to end June 2018, ploughs 10 per cent of its turnover into R&D – and a growing proportion of that funding will clearly be focused towards creating solutions to enhance products in the booming plant-based protein segment in the years ahead. 


The company has said it is “committed to leading the conversation on making affordable, delicious, healthy and sustainable protein options available for all”. In 2017, the Group opened its dedicated Culinary Center of Excellence for Smart Proteins in Vienna, as well as hosting its very first conference on alternative and sustainable proteins in Geneva.


Building on that success, in October 2019 the Group will hold its second conference on alternative proteins at Campus’s headquarters in Parma, Italy. The event, which will be attended by key culinary thought leaders and experts in the field, focuses on the challenges of creating new and enjoyable Flexitarian eating experiences. The Flexitarian diet, as cited by the Lancet report on Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems, has been defined as the universal healthy diet and as a key factor in being able to sustainably feed the world’s population as it reaches 10 billion by 2050.

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