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Packaging to Boost the Flavor of Plant-Based Proteins

Differentiate plant-based meat alternative products with easily applied custom seasoning blends.

With a growing number of consumers seeking to add more protein options to their diets in addition to meats and poultry, plant-based proteins have grown in popularity and in availability. Sales of meatless proteins or plant-based alternatives grew 23% in 2018, according to the Good Food Institute, and retail sales could approach $1 billion by the end of this year.

Processors have clearly adapted to the trend, with some meat and poultry processors adding plant-based products to their traditional portfolios, as well as blended or hybrid products containing both meat and plant-based ingredients.

Likewise, retailers are making more room for the new assortment of plant-based protein products alongside meats and poultry, and in separate sections of supermarkets.

While many consumers are enjoying this new product category, competition is growing as shoppers learn about and try to distinguish between the many choices now available. A related issue may be the taste factor, with plant-based proteins sometimes having a reputation for lacking the flavor and visual appeal of traditional meat and poultry products. 

Processors can counter both of these issues by adding flavor, seasonings, and visual appeal as a way to differentiate their products. More importantly, adding flavor and seasonings to these products is not difficult: It may be as simple as incorporating innovative packaging technologies.

Flavoring Plant-Based Proteins with Seasoning Transfer Products

Flavorseal may be able to help processors of plant-based proteins add flavors and visual appeal with our line of Seasoning Transfer Technology packaging products. This innovative technology, originally introduced for meats, poultry, cheese and other foods, can  be utilized for plant-based proteins in many of the same ways as it’s used for meats and poultry. These Seasoning Transfer Technology products also can be run on existing packaging equipment with no modifications required.

The preseasoned  packaging, casings, bags and sheets have custom spice blends pre-applied on the inside, making it easy to apply seasonings to food surfaces as the products are packaged, either prior to processing or for the retail shelf.

A moisture-activated technology, Seasoning Transfer products work best when applied to moist food surfaces. The sheets and casings are coated with the processor’s choice of seasonings or spice blends, making application of seasoning a clean and simple one-step process on the production line. This application method also reduces spice waste and cleanup time, while producing a more consistent application of flavorings.

Some applications of the technology in the plant-based foods sector may include pre-sliced, prepackaged deli “meats” made from plant-based ingredients, as well as plant-based cheese alternative products and plant-based patties.

For example, Seasoning Transfer Casings can be used to enhance both the flavor and color of plant-based pre-sliced deli meats during processing. These products are often made using a similar process as traditional processed deli meats, in which deli casings are filled with the plant-based slurry mixture before being  clipped and processed via cooking or smokehouse.

By swapping out traditional deli casings for preseasoned Seasoning Transfer Casings, processors can add spices to the outside of the plant-based product just before processing. The filled casing is clipped and processed, and when the casing is removed, the resulting deli product will have seasonings applied to the surface. The product is then sliced and packaged in tubs or shingle packs for retail sale.

With plant-based patty products, Seasoning Transfer Sheets can be used to apply custom blended seasonings to the vegetable-based patties prior to being packaged in trays. And there’s also the opportunity to season vegan cheese products by packaging the products in retail-ready Seasoning Transfer Bags that apply seasonings to the surface of the cheese during packaging. When the shrink packaging is removed by the consumer, the seasonings remain on the product.

For all of these applications, one of the key benefits is that processors can add just about any flavor profile desired. There’s virtually no limit to the different flavors or seasoning blends that can be applied using Flavorseal’s Seasoning Transfer products. So processors of plant-based proteins can customize spice blends to respond to flavor trends and even seasonal recipes. That means enhanced product options for consumers and greater product differentiation in a market that’s filling with competitors. 

Flavorseal’s Technical Assistance for Processors

We can help provide guidance and assistance to processors interested in exploring Seasoning Transfer products with new or existing plant-based proteins. Whether it’s helping to monitor processes, specifying the most appropriate packaging materials for certain equipment, or assisting with testing and use of  the products, Flavorseal technical specialists are ready to help. Simply get in touch with Flavorseal to find out more about this growing trend and how to explore packaging options to enhance your product portfolio.

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