Healthy vegetarian alternatives
According to a survey conducted by Allied Market Research, published at FoodNavigator, the consumption of alternative proteins (other than fish and meat), is predicted to increase by 8.4 percent from 2017 to the end of 2020. Choosing a vegetarian alternative has been normalized, and is no longer perceived as a diet for those with “special interests”. After producers such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger entered the arena, meat-lovers got the taste for plant-based alternatives. Several food producers are monitoring the development closely, and are testing new concepts.
Gases crucial to freshness, longer shelf life, and less food waste
The food industry is facing new requirements due to the vegetarian trend. Vegetarian and vegan food is all about freshness, taste, and consistency, but also preservation during transportation, cooling, and freezing.
“Food production is energy- and resource-intensive. Aiming to reduce our climate footprint, we must reduce our food waste. Linde’s food-grade gases help maintain high food quality and extend shelf life. The gases are used for cooling, freezing, and packing in a modified atmosphere,” explains Frank Austad, Head of Food Industries at Linde.
Gases are instrumental in food production. In order to preserve vitamins and longevity, freshness and nutrition, cryogenic freezing in freezers and refrigerators with temperature control systems is crucial. This also applies to food-packaging that depends on gas-mixes of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen, to preserve freshness, prolong shelf life, and food waste reduction.
“Many people are concerned about vitamin degradation and loss of nutrients in fresh foods. The vitamin- and nutrient content of fresh vegetables is reduced during storage. According to research, however, frozen products are full of nutrients. Provided that they are frozen while they are still fresh, and by using an optimal freezing solution, you can ensure quality, prolong shelf life and nutrient content,” says Austad.
Price and demand
We will probably see a lot of new and exciting products in the years to come. However, in some countries there are still challenges with a narrow selection and a high price range.
“There are currently only a few producers of vegetarian dishes in Norway”, says Austad. “Our clients say they get a good response from their customers on vegetarian products when it comes to both taste and quality, but the price is still a big factor. It has to be affordable and not too expensive. In cases where the vegetarian product costs the same or is more expensive than the meat alternative, the final choice often is the meat variant”, he believes.