Consumer Staples

Swimming With The Faux-Fshes 

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<p><span data-contrast="auto">The&nbsp;Food and&nbsp;Agricultural&nbsp;Organisation of the United Nations states&nbsp;one&nbsp;third of the world&rsquo;s fish stocks are fished at unsustainable levels. At the same time, fish consumption is growing worldwide;&nbsp;with an average increase north of 20% in the years between 1997- 2017. So high have the stakes been raised,&nbsp;and&nbsp;so limited&nbsp;is&nbsp;the resource,&nbsp;it&rsquo;s&nbsp;forged its way to the forefront of political battles &ndash; most notably Brexit.&nbsp;</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Clearly, plant-based fish&nbsp;has&nbsp;a&nbsp;role to play in providing&nbsp;solutions&nbsp;in the long term. In this article I delve into some of the challenges faced by the&nbsp;industry.</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong><span data-contrast="auto">Making fish from plants:</span></strong><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Right now, the top choice for manufacturers in the faux-fish sector is soy; it has a high nutritional content, functional flexibility, well- established supply and resulting low cost. From a functional perspective, it contains favourable fibrous structure that perform well in the texturizing process. The key drawback is that soy is also an allergen, making it unsuitable for some consumers.&nbsp;Outside of soy, the&nbsp;ever-ubiquitous&nbsp;Pea protein is high in demand,&nbsp;allergen-free,&nbsp;but does&nbsp;brings with it problems in price, off-notes, and supply.&nbsp;</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Both&nbsp;the&nbsp;aforementioned require&nbsp;a &ldquo;wet process&rdquo; of texturization- if&nbsp;one wishes to create the bite associated&nbsp;with&nbsp;certain fish or meat.&nbsp;This process and more expensive.&nbsp;By comparison&nbsp;using&nbsp;a&nbsp;cheaper to produce&nbsp;dry TVP&nbsp;(texturized veg protein)&nbsp;can create&nbsp;a&nbsp;satisfactory&nbsp;texture&nbsp;akin to&nbsp;ground products,&nbsp;with potential applications in&nbsp;crab,&nbsp;fish&nbsp;cakes&nbsp;or other more processed fish products. Perhaps, therefore, these cheaper alternatives will have a natural commercial advantage in this space.</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">When it comes to certain textures&nbsp;attributed to&nbsp;Prawn (non-fibrous and with bounce), starches&nbsp;derived from konjac or potato&nbsp;can be&nbsp;used to form cross-linked gel structures. Another&nbsp;challenge is to accurately mimic a realistic fish colour, which varies in difficulty depending upon the sub-category.&nbsp;Salmon and crustaceans require orange to pink/red colours with good stability across processes, while for tuna, it is important to realistically replicate the colour change that happens during cooking&nbsp;from&nbsp;fresh. For whitefish, it is necessary to whiten the plant protein, which is&nbsp;typically&nbsp;beige to yellow.</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong><span data-contrast="auto">On Nutritional perception:</span></strong><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Studies have shown that fish and seafood are widely perceived as having a&nbsp;multitude of&nbsp;health and nutritional benefits:&nbsp;linked to high protein, low fat content and high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. To widen the appeal of plant-based alternatives outside of the vegetarian and vegan markets, products need to offer similar health and nutritional benefits.&nbsp;Key to successful launches&nbsp;will be&nbsp;products developed with&nbsp;the&nbsp;focus on protein and Omega-3 content.&nbsp;This is especially so&nbsp;in non-TVP products,&nbsp;such as plant-based shrimp, which often have&nbsp;very low levels of protein.</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">The&nbsp;</span><em><span data-contrast="none">Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score </span></em><strong><em><span data-contrast="none">(PDCAAS) -&nbsp;</span></em></strong><span data-contrast="none">the rating system used by the USFDA</span><strong><em><span data-contrast="none">.</span></em></strong><span data-contrast="none">&nbsp;Defined as &ldquo;a method of evaluating the </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_quality"><span data-contrast="none">quality of a protein</span></a><span data-contrast="none"> based on both the </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid"><span data-contrast="none">amino acid</span></a><span data-contrast="none"> requirements of humans and their ability to digest it,&rdquo; Currently rates Soy at&nbsp;</span><em><span data-contrast="auto">0.91 &ndash; 1</span></em><span data-contrast="auto">&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><span data-contrast="none">Pea</span><span data-contrast="auto">&nbsp;at&nbsp;</span><em><span data-contrast="auto">0.82 &ndash; 0.89</span></em><span data-contrast="auto">, with 1 being the optimum. The takeaway here is both proteins sources, particularly soy live up to the&nbsp;high-quality&nbsp;protein claim. And&nbsp;therefore,&nbsp;should be first considerations when health is high on the agenda.&nbsp;</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong><span data-contrast="none">If&nbsp;not plant, then what:</span></strong><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Plant-based vs lab grown Cell culture is a&nbsp;possible&nbsp;solution for solving the challenge of recreating whole muscle products. This technology delivers a result that much more closely matches the texture of real fish and seafood.&nbsp;</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Cultivated products may be the closest, &lsquo;freshest&rsquo; and most nutritional&nbsp;when&nbsp;compared to the real thing.&nbsp;One idea is to use&nbsp;Single Cell Proteins (SCP). These&nbsp;are ingredients derived from algae, fungi, or other microbes that are created using fermentation processes&nbsp;similar to&nbsp;that used in making bread and beer. Bacteria protein have been quite thoroughly explored as an alternative to crops and the process is in use for production of animal feed. Bacteria proteins are grown via fermentation of optimised strains of microbes and offer high protein content and growth rates. Current downsides include high production cost and potential negative consumer&nbsp;perception;&nbsp;however, this could be a viable alternative&nbsp;in the near future.&nbsp;</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto">Algal proteins are created from algae or seaweed and are currently gaining great interest for plant-based fish and seafood products. Grown in water via photosynthesis this novel protein has quite low production costs. Algae inherently provide a complementary flavour profile for fish and seafood. Initial capital investment is high and growth rates are quite low, so there are still challenges for successful large-scale production.</span><span data-ccp-props="{&quot;201341983&quot;:0,&quot;335559739&quot;:160,&quot;335559740&quot;:259}">&nbsp;</span></p>
KR Expert - Ben Peatfield