DSM: “Hybrids of Animal and Cell-Based or Plant-Based and Cell-Based Protein Will Start to Appear”

Gilbert Verschelling, Director of Business Development & Innovation says that DSM is keeping an eye on the growing developments in cell-based protein, predicting that hybrid products will play a part in future protein solutions.

What products did DSM launch for the plant-based market in 2021?
The plant-based market has seen phenomenal growth in recent years, both in consumer demand and new product launches. In 2021, over 4,500 new plant-based meat and dairy alternative products were introduced globally.[1] Consumers are spoiled for choice. Producers, however, are faced with the ever-increasing challenge of differentiating their offerings, ensuring a great taste and texture, enhancing nutritional profiles and navigating fragmented regulatory landscapes. Additionally, they must bring their products to market quickly and are therefore continually looking to shorten and simplify their innovation and NPD cycles using more efficient solutions.

Keeping up with the latest fast-moving plant-based trends can be a challenge. One recent trend that has skyrocketed in popularity is plant-based fish. While an exciting development, the signature flaky or oily texture of fish has historically been difficult to recreate in plant-based fish alternatives – this has presented a complex challenge for producers to navigate.

Maxavor® DSM
Maxavor® ©DSM

In 2021, DSM launched a new solution to support this growing market. DSM’s Maxavor® Fish YE, which was recently awarded ‘Best plant-based innovation’ by Food Ingredients Europe, provides an authentic fish experience. Available in two profiles, a white, flaky profile and darker, meaty, oily fish profile, both process flavors deliver an authentic flavor and mouthfeel. Derived from algal oil, this unique vegan, Kosher, Halal and 100% allergen-free innovation supports a wide range of label claims and can help producers support today’s diverse consumer requirements.

To help our customers win over new consumers with a broader range of appealing plant-based meat alternatives, DSM also introduced three new flavors to its process flavor portfolio in 2021. Maxavor® Plant Masker EU helps mask undesirable flavors like the typical green, beany notes of plant-based protein. And Maxavor® Prime Beef and Maxarome® Grilled Chicken create delicious meaty tastes with tunable levels of intensity.


Although taste is king for most consumers, the nutritional profiles of plant-based alternatives is also increasingly under scrutiny. Producers are now looking for ways to match a plant-based alternative’s nutritional profile with that of its animal-derived counterpart. To address this need, DSM launched the Fortifull™ Nutrition Guide. This offers a tool to identify any missing micronutrients in plant-based alternatives when compared to their meat and fish equivalents, while accounting for the naturally occurring micronutrients in the plant-based product. This guide identifies solutions to fill these nutrient gaps, allowing the creation of tasty, healthy and nutritious plant-based foods.

What are your plans in the plant-based market for the rest of 2022?
The demand for high-quality, sustainably produced proteins looks set to increase as the global population is expected to grow by a further two billion people over the coming 30 years. In particular, the industry and consumers alike want more ways to diversify where they get their protein from. People want sustainable, varied protein sources that are not only healthier for them, but also better for the planet while still meeting taste and texture expectations.

We are pleased to have been able to welcome the teams from both First Choice Ingredients, a leading supplier of dairy and savory flavorings, and Vestkorn. The acquisition of First Choice Ingredients complements DSM’s existing taste and texture portfolio, with our cultures, enzymes, yeast extracts, process flavors and texturizing hydrocolloids, as well as nutritional solutions. The Vestkorn acquisition enables us to further accelerate our plant-based specialty proteins offering with Vestkorn’s pea- and bean-derived proteins, starches and dietary fibers as well as providing synergy with DSM’s innovative CanolaPRO® protein. CanolaPRO® is a highly soluble and functional alternative protein isolate that is derived from non-GMO canola (rapeseed), and is due to be launched in 2022 via our collaboration with Avril.

Vegan tuna DSM

These acquisitions will support us in our commitment to reach 150 million people with nutritious, delicious, sustainable plant-based protein foods by 2030. Additionally, our joint venture with Cargill – Avansya – will use fermentation to sustainably produce next generation zero-calorie sweeteners – at scale.

We are also keeping an eye on the growing developments in cell-based protein. While we don’t expect lab-grown meat to hit the mainstream this year, we believe hybrid solutions containing both animal and cell-based protein or plant-based and cell-based protein will start to appear in the future and could help in providing our growing population with more diversified protein sources.

How many plant-based products for which areas does DSM offer?
With a broad range of products that cater to a vast number of applications, DSM is a one-stop-shop for plant-based solutions as part of its overall offering for the food and beverage industry. When looking at meat and fish alternatives, key applications include plant-based burgers, fish soups, pies, sauces, nuggets, salads and more. Catering to a variety of applications is key in the plant-based market as consumers increasingly search for familiar flavors like beef, chicken, cod, tuna, crab and shrimp. As well as the latest launches mentioned previously, DSM’s wider portfolio of solutions for plant-based alternative products includes GELLANEER™ gellan gum for optimizing texture and mouthfeel, and Quali® vitamins, DSM Premix Solutions, life’sDHA® and life’sOMEGA omega-3s for added nutritional value.

Fish and chips DSM

DSM also offers solutions for improving the taste, viscosity and nutrition of dairy alternatives. This includes both cereal-based (such as oat and rice) and non-cereal-based (like soy and almond) drinks which are particularly popular in this space. Ingredient solutions include DSM’s Delvo®Plant enzymes for taste, texture, sweetness and nutrition, ModuMax® taste modulation solutions, CanolaPRO®proteins and more.

Why should customers choose DSM?
In such a fast-paced food and beverage industry, producers want partners who can provide more than ingredients. From established multinationals who want to streamline NPD cycles to punchy start-ups with a great idea but less internal resources, companies are looking for a full-service partner. On top of this, additional purchase drivers such as supply chain transparency, sustainability and nutritional value are now competing with taste and texture as consumers’ top priority.

[1] Mintel GNPD accessed 2022.

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