Is the hemp heart the next meat analogue ?

29 September of 2021, by Bethan Grylls (New Food)

The demand for meat alternatives is growing worldwide but the challenge of mimicking meat without compromises on taste is a difficult hurdle to overcome.However, one Kentucky - basedcompany believes it’ s cracked it– and the answer lies in the hemp heart.

The US plant-based market

Global meat consumption is rising, especially in the US, which makes up around $270 billion of the $1.4 trillion worldwide meat industry.

Albeit in comparative infancy to the animal-based food market, there is an increasing drive for meat alternatives in the US. “It’s gaining momentum, but it’s not a household item just yet,” Ben Raymond, Director of Research & Development at Victory Hemp told New Food.

Its slower uptake could be down to the delicate balancing act between masking earthy flavours of plants without overdosing on fats, oils or salts; and the complex challenge of developing a product that mimics the unique mouthfeel of meat. It may be a strange notion, making plants taste like meat, but as the market is being driven by flexitarians,1,2 consumers are looking for products which can replace meat without a trade-off.

Despite its smaller size and challenges, Barclays bank believes the opportunity for plant-based protein will be bigger than the projected stats for electric vehicles 10 years ago.

Rising to the challenge

The protein category is already growing in variety and we’re seeing more meat analogues emerging. “Soy is leading, but other alternatives such as pea protein have come to market too,” Raymond said. “I believe that rather than there being one dominant protein in the future, we’ll see the market diversify. And these options will probably be regionalised, depending on the local tastes, changing climates, and so on.”