Motif Foodworks & University of Queensland to Break New Ground in Plant-Based Protein

Motif FoodWorks, an animal-free ingredient innovation company, today announced a partnership with The University of Queensland to test and identify new formulations to improve the texture of plant-based meat products through ​in vitro ​processing. The partnership represents the first time​ in vitro ​oral processing will be applied in the category of meat analogs.

Texture represents one of the biggest sensory gaps between current plant-based meat and their animal-derived counterparts, and the most significant challenge facing brands hoping to win over consumers in today’s crowded market. The partnership with UQ will arm Motif with insights they can apply to their ingredient discovery process and in turn, help their customers build better products that meet the texture expectations of consumers.

Motif’s food science lead, Stefan Baier, will be leading the three-year initiative internally; Baier has nearly two decades of experience in the research and foundational science of food and beverage solutions. He will lead a team of Motif food scientists in partnership with top academics in food oral processing and sensory evaluation at UQ: Professor Jason Stokes, Director of Research at the School of Chemical Engineering and Dr. Heather Smyth, a Senior Research Fellow with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation.

Motif Foodworks
©Motif Foodworks

“Typically, when formulating new products, food scientists rely solely on ​in vivo ​ testing, depending on trained sensory panelists to tell them how well a new product simulates the traditional version,” said Baier. “This process can be expensive, time-consuming and often subjective, since perceptions can vary based on factors like a person’s saliva flow rate and composition.”

“The University of Queensland’s research in oral processing and sensory evaluation is unparalleled, and our work together will provide direct benefit to our customers and to consumers looking for better plant-based options,” said Mike Leonard, CTO at Motif FoodWorks. “Getting texture right in plant-based foods is critical to consumer acceptance and ultimately, a factor that will set category leaders apart. It is Motif’s mission to help our customers close the deltas between their products and the animal-derived experiences consumers love, and we believe the team at UQ will help us get there.”

“Oral processing is an essential driver behind the consumer acceptance of food,” said Stokes. “By focusing on the physics, rather than the opinion of the chewer, we can get a more accurate and universal read of what makes food enjoyable to eat. Our work with the Motif team will enable them to translate that knowledge for the production of better, more texturally similar meat analogs moving forward.”