At the heart of the need for plant-based meat innovation is to feed the growing global population and meet the increased demand for protein, Jana Mauck, senior strategic marketing manager at Cargill, told FoodNavigator-USA at Expo West. The global population is to hit 10bn by 2050, and global meat production will double the same year, according to a separate United Nations report.
“Protein consumption is expected to double over the next 30 years, but in that, natural resources are still going to be constrained,” Mauck said. “ In order to meet that demand for the growing population, we're going to need both traditional protein and alternative protein, and ... Cargill sees that as an opportunity for us to play as an inclusive protein provider.”
In terms of dollars and cents, the global meat market — which includes plant-based meat alternatives — is estimated to be worth $1.31tn in 2023 and is only expected to grow in the coming years, according to Statista data. The meat market is estimated to be worth $1.75tn in 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.47% from 2023-2027, according to the research.
Partnering with Cubiq Foods to expand ingredient portfolio
Cargill entered a go-to-market and co-development partnership with Spanish food tech company Cubiq Foods to improve the commercial availability of Cubiq’s Go!Drop fat replacement technology, which provides a novel fat solution to reduce the fat content and calories of plant-based meats, Mauck said.
“Adding the Go!Drop solution to our portfolio really expands our toolbox of plant-based solutions and helps us with our customers really solve some of the challenges that are in the industry today around taste and texture and structure.”
The company demoed the Go!Drop technology at its Expo West booth in a plant-based burger also made with Cargill’s protein ingredients. With the Go!Drop technology, Cargill was “able to reduce saturated fat by 30%,” in comparison to a coconut-canola version of the same burger, Mauck said. Go!Drop also retained the burger’s juiciness, she added.
The Go!Drop technology primarily works well with meat alternatives, including burgers, breakfast patties, sausages, pizza crumbles, and others, though Cargill is “starting to look at the dairy alternative applications also,” Mauck said.
Innovating for the future of plant-based meats
Looking forward, Cargill hopes to expand access to the Go!Drop technology but also work with Cubiq Foods on other innovative solutions for plant-based meat alternatives, Mauck noted.
“Over the last nine months, our teams have been working really well together, collaborating to bring to develop new solutions. And that's kind of what Cargill can help bring is that development - that application – [and] help them advance and get that wider-scale commercialization from our expertise and our customer connections."