There are many different challenges to plant-based protein processing. Some protein powders like pea and lupine-based ingredients are notorious for their difficult flow characteristics. Static electricity or high fat content can cause powders to stick together and cling to the surface of the conveying lines and feeders. In addition, the thermo-mechanical extrusion process of plant-based proteins depends on various process parameters. Moisture, pressure, temperature, and shear forces all contribute the quality of the desired end product.
In addition to process know-how for the entire process, the challenges of plant-based protein production can be divided into four main factors along the extrusion process: recipe, process moisture, energy input and discharge.
Of the four, the recipe is the most influential. With the appropriate recipe, including the quality of raw materials, it is possible to optimize the extrusion process for high-quality plant-based protein products. However, it is impossible to produce high-quality products without the right recipe, no matter how much you adjust the other factors. It is also vital to note that changing any one of the factors affecting quality also influences the other factors, making quality control a challenging process.
In this article, we show which factors should be given special attention in the production of plant-based proteins. Because their manufacturing process and the parameters responsible for their quality differ, we consider TVP (Texturized Vegetable Proteins) and HMMA (High Moisture Meat Analogues) separately.
While the ZGF centric food pelletizer is attached to the ZSK food extruder’s process section for manufacturing TVP in order to cut the product directly at the nozzle plate, HMMA is discharged using a specialized cooling die which produces a product strand exhibiting a texture closely resembling that of genuine meat.