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Texturized wheat protein: meat substitute of the future

Great taste thanks to advanced Coperion system design.

Due to a growing global population, as well as an increasing interest in both vegetarian and vegan options, alternatives to animal protein are becoming increasingly popular. As a result, the demand for plant-based ingredients is increasing, as is consumption of products made from plant protein. One example of an alternative protein source is texturized vegetable protein (TVP). In comparison to animal products, these are not only more economical, but also more environmentally friendly. Further advantages include longer shelf life and lower fat content.

So far, the dominant raw material for meat substitutes has been almost exclusively soy. However, experts predict that proportions will shift in the years to come and that texturized wheat proteins (TWP) will experience significant market share increase. Wheat texturate is rich in essential amino acids, riboflavin, and glutamine, and looks promising as a long-term  alternative for daily meal planning.

Innovative technologies for production of meat substitutes
With advanced extrusion equipment from Coperion, high-quality wheat texturate can be manufactured whose structure exhibits similar aroma and texture profiles to those of chicken, pork, or beef, and even that of fish. The systems typically include a ZSK Food Extruder with ZGF centric pelletizer and highly accurate Coperion K-Tron loss-in-weight feeders, as well as ingredient and end product conveying.

The basis of texturized protein is wheat gluten which is especially well suited for processing into vegetarian and vegan food products on account of its particular characteristics. Products acquire their meat-like consistency from targeted protein texturizing during the extrusion process, requiring precise interplay between the recipe, process parameters, extrusion nozzle design, and pelletizing technology.

ZSK Food Extruder proven technology with secure scale-up
The ZSK Food Extruder fulfills every specialized requirement for the manufacture of wheat texturate, providing very good product intake, optimal mixing characteristics, and gentle product handling with the twin shafts’ deeply cut screw flights and concurrent high torque. At the same time, the closely intermeshing twin screws are perfectly self-cleaning. Within the process section, stagnant zones are consistently avoided so that the wheat texturate exhibits evenly high quality at all times.

Moreover, the ZSK Food Extruder proves its worth with its secure scale-up across all of its available sizes. Since all of the twin screw extruder’s process parameters are constant throughout, product results achieved at laboratory scale can be transferred easily and securely to larger production quantities – with the end result’s quality remaining constant.

Intelligent feeders from Coperion K-Tron
When manufacturing texturized wheat protein, gravimetric feeders are typically used for bulk material feeding. Gravimetric feeders from Coperion K-Tron are known for their high accuracy in continuous process feeding as well as for their easy cleaning – qualities which are both especially important in food production. Based upon this outstanding precision, ingredients can be fed in an ideal manner, avoiding interruptions to the production process and consequently assuring constantly high-end product quality. 

Furthermore, using the feeders’ proven ActiFlow™ Bulk Solid Activator, bridge building can be circumvented so that even difficult and bridging materials can be fed reliably. This flow assistance device from Coperion K-Tron does not come into contact with the product but instead is attached to the outside of the hopper. In this manner, alongside high process safety, a high standard of food hygiene can be achieved as well.

All expertise in one place
With its many years of experience in the field of texturized proteins, Coperion is in a position to optimally design complete extrusion systems for the production of meat substitute products. Concurrently, the ZSK extruder’s hygienic design, as well as that of the feeding devices and the raw ingredient handling and material transfer systems are perfectly aligned to the food industry’s high standards for hygiene. Coperion adapts every process step and the technologies involved to one another so that machine operators profit from a coherent overall concept at the highest level.

Coperion ZSK Food Extruder
ZSK Food Extruder in hygienic design, equipped with a ZGF centric pelletizer and a highly accurate Coperion K-Tron loss-in-weight feeder.

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