Company Unveils Plant-Based Ribs

Next Meats Co Ltd, a food tech company based in Tokyo and now operating in the US, has recently announced the launch of a new version of its popular short rib product: the Next Yakiniku Short-Rib 2.0.

Last month, the pioneering Japanese brand announced it has developed three new products: “NEXT Pork”, “NEXT Tuna”, and “NEXT Milk”, set for imminent commercial release. In June, the company announced a new collaboration with Wayback Burgers, a popular US burger chain and one of the fastest-growing burger franchises in the country.

The “Next Yakiniku” range includes Short-Rib and Skirt-Steak variants, attracting keen fans and strong media interest since it was launched last year at Yakiniku Like, a popular barbecue franchise with branches all over Japan. Previously, plant-based meat was not widely available in restaurants in Japan. Now, Next Yakiniku is available in supermarkets nationwide and is offered in a variety of other restaurants. It is also now available in other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The revised Short-Rib 2.0 has a firmer texture and the shape has been flattened and enlarged so that it looks even more like sliced beef. It also contains 5% more protein than before and the sauce is tastier, making it even closer to the taste of a real Japanese beef steak.

Next Yakiniku Short Rib 2.0 will first be available in Japan through the company’s e-commerce website, then in retail stores and restaurants, and finally overseas. Next Meats plans to continue selling the older Short Rib 1.1 as well.

Ryo Shirai, co-founder of Next Meats Co. and CEO of Next Meats Holdings, said at the press conference that he is pleased to finally present the results of years of research and hopes that the updated Next Yakiniku Short Rib 2.0 can inspire more people to try Next Meats products and other plant-based foods.

Source: Vegconomist

How Healthy Are the New Plant-Based ‘Fake Meats’?

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

More and more Americans are seeking out healthier, greener and more ethical alternatives to meat, but are plant-based alternatives like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat truly nutritious substitutes?

The answer is yes, according to new research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It found the imitation meats to be a good source of fiber, folate and iron while containing less saturated fat than ground beef. But the researchers said they also have less protein, zinc and vitamin B12 — and lots of salt.

“Switching from ground beef to a plant-based ground beef alternative product can be a healthy choice in some ways,” said lead researcher Lisa Harnack, of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, in Minneapolis.

Her advice: Read the Nutrition Facts label and choose a product that best matches your health and nutrition goals.

For example, if you’re limiting sodium to control high blood pressure, steer clear of products that are high in salt, Harnack said.

“If you’re watching saturated fat intake for heart health, read the label to make sure you’re choosing a product that is low in saturated fat,” she said. “A few products contain as much or nearly as much saturated fat as ground beef.”

For the study, Harnack’s team used a University of Minnesota food and nutrient database that includes 37 plant-based ground beef alternative products made by nine food companies.

The products analyzed are from Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.; Beyond Meat; Conagra, Inc.; Impossible Foods Inc.; Kellogg NA Co.; Kraft Foods, Inc.; Marlow Foods Ltd.; Tofurky; and Worthington.

Although these plant-based products can be healthy alternatives to beef, Harnack hopes their manufacturers will make them even healthier by keeping salt to a minimum.

“Food companies should work to optimize the nutritional quality of their products, especially with respect to the amount of salt and other sodium-containing ingredients used in formulating veggie burgers and other plant-based ground beef alternative products,” Harnack said.

Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, reviewed the findings.

She noted that the World Health Organization has classified processed meats (deli meats, bacon and sausage) as potentially cancer-causing, and red meat (veal, lamb, beef and pork) as probable cancer-causing substances, due to the processing, compounds in the meat and cooking methods.

“Limiting consumption of red and processed meats significantly lowers one’s intake of saturated fat,” Heller said.

The sodium in some plant-based imitation meats may be moderate to high, but if most of the foods people eat are less-processed ones, it should not be a problem, she added.

“All in all, eating more plants and fewer animals is good for your health and the health of the planet,” Heller said.

But “meat alternative” is not an ideal term, she added, because it sets up expectations of taste.

“While some plant-based ‘meats’ come close to the taste and texture of real meat, the idea is that these foods offer a different choice for protein, not a one-on-one swap out for meat or other animal foods,” Heller explained.

Many options exist for those seeking a more plant-based diet, she said.

“Whole foods are best, but there is plenty of wiggle room to include plant-based meat, dairy, poultry and egg alternatives,” Heller advised. “On a daily basis if we eat a balanced, more plant-rich diet, we should be able to meet our nutrient needs.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Source: HealthDay

Plant-Based Meats Are on the Rise. But Are They Sustainable?

Marc Fawcett Atkinson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Vegetables are becoming increasingly common in an unusual place: the grocery store meat aisle.

Sales of alternative, or plant-based, meats are booming worldwide. Driven by skyrocketing demand from consumers striving to cut back on meat and companies facing increasing pressure to reduce their environmental footprint, the market is anticipated to reach $23.1 billion by 2025.

And major meat companies have been racing to meet demand, with big players such as McDonald’s and Maple Leaf Foods recently launching a suite of plant-based meats.

Meat contributes up to eight billion tonnes of CO2 per year, roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.6 billion cars, and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global shift to diets that contain less meat is essential to keep global warming under the 1.5 C limit agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“It’s well-known that eating lower down the food chain is more environmentally efficient,” said Navin Ramankutty, professor of global environmental change and food security at the University of British Columbia.

That’s because plants require far fewer resources—water, land, fossil fuels—to produce, per calorie, than meat. It’s also healthier, the IPCC report notes, with excessive meat consumption linked to numerous health issues.

Those factors have fuelled a booming market in alternative proteins, meat- and dairy-like products that are usually manufactured from soy or pea protein, with about 10 per cent of Canadians saying they eat little or no meat, according to research by Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

Companies in their infancy a decade ago, such as Beyond Meat, have become household names. Now, major meat companies have jumped in the fray.

For instance, in the past three years, Maple Leaf Foods has purchased two venerable alternative meat companies—Lightlife Foods and the Field Roast Grain Meat Co.—and announced plans to build a $401-million pea-protein processing plant in the U.S.

This year, the company launched a line of products made from a blend of plant and animal proteins, a “direct response to Canadians’ desire to eat sustainably,” said Michael McCain, Maple Leaf Foods’ CEO, in a written statement.

Maple Leaf Foods isn’t alone in banking on sustained consumer interest in plant-based meats.

In the first half of 2020 alone, more than $1.4 billion was invested in alternative protein companies. That’s more than twice the total amount spent last year, according to Coller Capital, an international private equity investment company. The organization regularly publishes an index evaluating social, environmental and governance risk factors for 60 major meat and protein companies as a guide for sustainability-minded investors.

For Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, those numbers aren’t surprising.

“I don’t think (consumer demand) is going to go away … COVID may have stalled the momentum a little bit, but I am expecting the momentum to come back,” he said, citing Canadians’ concerns about the environment, their health and the ethical treatment of farm animals.

Even veganism, one of the more challenging plant-centric diets to follow, is on the rise, he noted, with about 600,000 Canadians saying they were vegans this year compared to 400,000 in 2019.

Still, some researchers say that despite the hype, plant-based meats might be less sustainable than they appear.

“That question of sustainability has to be asked in a much wider context than just the production of these plant-based (meats),” said Élisabeth Abergel, professor of sociology and environmental studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Especially when it comes to evaluating industrially produced, plant-based proteins. Simply measuring the number of resources used to produce plant protein and comparing that against the number used to produce an equivalent volume of animal protein doesn’t give an accurate picture of the food’s overall impact, Abergel said.

Plant-based meats remain a small part of the major meat companies’ total production, she said. That makes it difficult for plant-based meats to significantly impact these companies’ environmental footprint without additional, supply-chain-wide changes to how they produce and distribute food.

For instance, only four per cent of Maple Leaf Foods’ sales revenue last year—about $176 million—came from plant-based products. However, the company has invested in a suite of initiatives to reduce its overall environmental footprint by 50 per cent (compared to 2014) by 2025.

Abergel said an environmentally conscientious consumer should also consider how the base ingredients for plant-based meats are produced.

“Certain companies use soy, other companies use pea protein. In (both cases), are these grown organically or are they grown in monocultures? Are they part of the same supply chain … used for feeding cattle?” she said.

“If the soy protein or the pea protein come from monocultures, and the soy is genetically modified, I think that sustainability measures have to take these into account.”

Industrial agriculture is associated with myriad environmental impacts, from nitrous oxide emissions tied to excessive fertilizer use to hurting pollinators through habitat destruction.

Not only that, the economic model that underpins both industrial agriculture and meat production is dominated by a handful of large processing and retail companies. As a result, farmers often have little choice but to sell their crops at an unsustainably low price that isn’t reflected in the prices paid by consumers, according to Cathy Holtslander, director of research and policy at the National Farmers Union.

Farm debt has risen exponentially in the past 20 years, more than doubling since 2000 to reach $115 billion this year. Meanwhile, Canadian farmers’ net incomes have steadily dropped, hovering around $10 billion annually since the mid-1980s, rates unseen since the Great Depression.

That has pushed many out of business—the number of farms in Canada dropped 25 per cent between 1991 and 2011—and has made it more difficult for those who remain to innovate with more sustainable farming techniques, such as cover cropping to absorb excess nitrogen or interspersing pollinator habitats in their fields.

Abergel also pointed out that many large food processors have also seen other concerns in their supply chains, everything from working conditions to food safety. Those challenges speak to the need for a definition of food sustainability that is broader than just an environmental footprint, she said.

“If you’re somebody who is really concerned about sustainability, you need to go deeper.”

Source: Mother Jones

Meat Alternatives Becoming The New Normal in Spanish Supermarkets

The last few years have seen a great transformation in Spain’s supermarkets. With Spanish brands like Heura Foods, NovaMeat, and GrinGrin Foods, among many others, the plant-based revolution has the potential to turn the Iberian country into a new centre of innovation.

Around 10% of Spanish consumers have chosen to reduce their meat consumption in recent years, and this figure is growing. According to researchandmarkets.com, the annual growth of plant-based food in Spain will be 6.7% and will exceed 521 million euros in 2023. Among the places where this growth has been most noticeable is in supermarkets.

What products are being sold and in which supermarkets?

According to an article published by Proveg España, the famous Beyond Burger is being offered to the public in Sánchez-Romero supermarkets, thanks to Zyrcular Foods. The latter has also introduced the vegan meat brand in La Sirena supermarkets, Areas restaurants and in ALDI.

However, it was expected that Beyond Burger would have its competition in the Iberian Peninsula, and it does. Lidl supermarkets have introduced Next Level vegan meat. In addition, Lidl now has vegan mince, vegan slices and gyros-style meat.

ALDI has its own Wonder Burger and Maheso’s Green Moments frozen products can be found in Alcampo, El Corte Inglés, Family Cash, and Ahorramás supermarkets, among others.

Other vegetable brands include the famous Heura Burger, which is sold at Carrefour, La Sirena and Herbolario Navarro, and the Magic Burger from Campofrío, on the shelves of Eroski.

Other alternatives to animal food, such as “chicken” Next! Chick’n and the Crispy Tenders from Gardein, can also be found in the Sánchez-Romero supermarkets.

Source: Vegonomist

British Alt-meat Company Launches “World’s Meatiest Plant-Based Product”

Moving Mountains has launched what it claims is “the meatiest plant-based product in the world”. The strips are made with pea, soy, and wheat proteins, fortified with vitamin B12, and the fast-growing company says that the product sizzles and browns just like real beef.

Just last month, Moving Mountains launched plant-based fish fingers, and it also debuted a “pork” burger early last year. Its most well-known product, the “bleeding” burger, is now outselling conventional beef burgers through the wholesaler Brakes. The company’s other products include sausages, mince, and meatballs.

In an interview with vegconomist last year, founder Simeon Van der Molen said he expects to see even the most committed meat-eaters switching to plant-based alternatives in the near future.

“We have perfected the recipe with a team of scientists, chefs, and technological innovations, and it is the closest replication to beef available on the market,” said Simeon Van der Molen. “The product provides a real solution to the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry, without compromising on taste for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters.”

The new beef-style strips will be available at Sainsbury’s stores nationwide, retailing at about £4.50 for a 250g bag.

Source: Vegonomist