Nourish Ingredients releases animal-free fat to accelerate future food systems

The global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the United Nations (UN) reports. With the growth of people worldwide comes added pressures for food supply, security and the systems managing the supply chain behind them. “It’s clear our current food systems are unsustainable,” ​James Petrie, CEO of Australian food tech company Nourish Ingredients, told FoodNavigator.

Research data indicates that 77% of agricultural land is used to grow animals despite providing only 18% of calories and 37% of total protein in the global food supply. “This model simply can’t scale to meet future demand – we don’t have enough land or resources,” ​Petrie added.

With plant proteins a crucial and growing part of our diets, Nourish Ingredients launched its new product to solve the industry’s failure to convince broader consumers who enjoy meat, as they don’t deliver the taste and experience consumers want. “To succeed, plant proteins must provide a step-change in the authentic, natural and animalic flavours they crave,”​ said Petrie. The brand believes Tastilux is a step towards accelerating a tastier and more sustainable future food system.

Under development to revolutionise plant-based fats

The founders saw a gap in the animal-free fat market that it sought to fill to help generate consumer appeal for plant-based products. “The current crop of fats is a poor substitute for the real thing,” ​said Petrie.

For example, plant-based fats such as coconut or palm oil are often used but lack taste and function, the founders state. Plant protein needs to be an easy step for mainstream consumers to adopt them. “We can’t trick people into eating something they don’t want,” ​said Petrie.

A meaty flavour and authentic experience are vital components consumers want in plant-based products. “This authentic experience starts with a step change in taste, mouthfeel and cooking experience,” ​added Petrie.

Founded and led by scientists from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Nourish Ingredients aims to help accelerate future global food systems by solving current industry issues around taste, nutrition and consumer adoption.

After three years of development, the founders landed on Tastilux, which uses lipids found in nature to recreate flavourful fats found inside animal meat. The proprietary fat seeks to replicate traditional meat fats’ taste and aroma to enable real cooking reactions when used in plant-based chicken, beef, pork and other proteins.

Using precision fermentation, the brand has created its Tastilux fat, free from animal ingredients and artificial chemicals. Designed to deliver authentic, meaty flavour and cooking performance, it seeks to give global food and ingredient producers a fat that cooks, smells and tastes like traditional meat for consumers.

Nourish Ingredients launched Tastilux at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, showcasing the fat’s properties in a plant-based chicken wing, which the brand’s head of culinary innovation crafted, complete with edible bones made from calcium.

Mimicking a meat-based fat

Instead of adopting a plant-based approach, Nourish Ingredients analysed flavourful and potent animal fats in meat in their uncooked state. “Most alternative fats simply can’t replicate cooked meat’s rich, authentic flavour,” ​Petrie said.

The team then identified where it could find these in nature without the animal, locating the molecules in fungal strains found in Australian soil. “By fermenting only the most potent fats, we’re able to scale at low inclusion and high impact rates,” ​Petrie noted.
Tastilux acts as a pre-flavour, providing an authentic animalic cooking and eating experience with plant-based proteins. When a plant-based protein is combined with Tastilux ahead of the cooking process, it goes through the natural Maillard reaction, which enables it to create the meaty flavour, aroma and taste consumers expect from meat.

“By making the same potent molecules as those found in traditional meat, Tastilux behaves the same way during the cooking process, resulting in an animalic experience,”​ Petrie added.

Audience appeal

Honing in on a specific target market proves a challenge for today’s brands. “Plant-based protein companies currently face an uphill battle—their products resonate with vegan and vegetarian consumers but fail to win over a majority who still crave the taste of animal products,”​ shared Petrie.

The primary target market is business-to-business (B2B)​selling Tastilux as an ingredient to plant-based protein companies, not directly to consumers. By partnering with manufacturers of plant-based products, Nourishing Ingredients aims to ignite the uptake of plant-based proteins to the everyday consumer by providing an authentic experience.

“Tastilux is built to enable global commercial scale,”​ Petrie said. Nourish Ingredients is working with global food and ingredient leaders and seeks to incorporate Tastilux into various products.

“We hold ambitious global aspirations, and our actions reflect this vision,” ​Petrie said. Nourish Ingredients has a pilot facility in Singapore and is exploring numerous strategic partnerships in the UK and US. “The challenge we are tackling transcends borders, making it imperative for us to adopt a truly global perspective,”​ Petrie highlighted when discussing the brand’s plan for expansion.

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