Handtmann: “Interest in the Steak Was Overwhelming. We Hadn’t Expected Such Strong Demand”

Handtmann Maschinenfabrik GbH specialises in innovative filling and portioning systems. These technologies are widely used in the food industry, including in the production of plant-based sausage and meat products and other alternative products. Handtmann focuses on innovation in order to realise new product ideas as well as classic recipes with state-of-the-art technology.

At Anuga FoodTec in Cologne, Handtmann presented its new moulding system, a new option for the production of formed and filled products. The moulding system offers flexibility both for free forming and for forming and separating vegetarian and vegan alternative products, among others. With the “Steak 2.0”, Handtmann also presented its latest product innovation in the area of plant-based meat alternatives at the trade fair.

In his role as industry manager for alternative proteins, Winfried Hartwig is the application and industry expert for the alternative proteins sector in the global Handtmann network. He is intensively involved with current trends and developments in the field of alternative proteins and advises customers, interested parties and partners. In this interview, he talks to us about the successful Anuga FoodTec trade fair and the consistently positive feedback from visitors about Steak 2.0.

Winfried Hartwig, Handtmann
© Handtmann

You presented “Steak 2.0” at Anuga FoodTec. What is so special about this plant-based meat alternative?
The most special feature is the way in which Steak 2.0 is made. Thanks to our new FME 570 moulding system, we at Handtmann have succeeded in creating a plant-based steak that faithfully reproduces the animal original, but with an hourly output of 1000 kg per hour and more.

With our system, we can determine the fine marbling as well as the coarse fat structure and thus reproduce a wide variety of steak types such as filet mignon, ribeye, or entrecôte. Other processes that produce comparable results, such as 3D bioprinting, cannot achieve these hourly outputs or can only do so by operating many printers simultaneously. However, the high hourly output is absolutely essential in order to produce plant-based whole cuts economically.

What was the feedback on the product from trade visitors at Anuga FoodTec?
The interest in the steak was overwhelming. We hadn’t expected such strong demand. Visitors told us that they only came because of the vegan steak. We also had a wide variety of visitors who were able to taste our steak. It was therefore all the more pleasing for us to receive very positive feedback across the board.

What makes the technology behind Steak 2.0 so unique? What aspects of the production system would you emphasise?
As the market launch of the system is still to come, we are keeping a low profile here. The system enables us to faithfully reproduce the natural fat marbling and distribution of animal whole cuts.

A plant-based steak with marbled fat
Image courtesy of Planteneers

The high flexibility of the system, which allows a wide variety of product shapes and fat patterns to be displayed flexibly and at an hourly output that allows it to serve the retail trade and thus make the products accessible to a wide audience, was also a strong focus of development. Compatibility with our Handtmann vacuum fillers, which are already in use by the customer, was also important; the new system can be used as an attachment to existing Handtmann technology.

The product was developed in collaboration with Planteneers. Is the processing technology linked to Planteneers’ raw materials?
It quickly became clear that we needed a strong partner for the ingredients to achieve the best possible result. Our top priority throughout the entire development process was the texture and flavour of the end product. Here it was crucial to combine product and process development. Primarily to technically solve fat distribution and texture, i.e. fibre alignment, in close cooperation with the receptor optimisation by our partner Planteneers.

When it comes to selling the system, however, we are not tied to Planteneers, and the same applies vice versa, of course. This means that customers who want to use their own masses can also access our system. However, we recommend the raw materials from Planteneers, as they are perfectly matched to our system and Planteneers has also incorporated a great deal of expertise here. And with the feedback from Anuga ToodTec, we can also say that the mixes developed by Planteneers were convincing.

Handtmann steaks
© Handtmann

When can consumers expect to find the first products made with this technology in stores?
After Anuga, the first customer tests are now taking place at our Handtmann Forum in Biberach. The response here has also been very positive. I am therefore optimistic that Steak 2.0 will soon be available in stores.

Bühler was also represented on your stand at Anuga FoodTec, can you tell us more about the collaboration with Bühler?
With our Handtmann Inotec portfolio, we cover the process chain from product preparation to the portioned product. With Multivac as a strategic partner, we cover the downstream to the final packaged product and thus to the retail-ready product.

“I am […] optimistic that Steak 2.0 will soon be available in stores”

If you take the idea of the complete line solution further, a cooperation with Bühler was the next logical step upstream in our portfolio. Together with Bühler, we can now offer our customers the entire process chain for the production of foods based on texturised vegetable proteins in order to further advance the development of the alternative proteins sector.

Where and how can interested parties find out more about Handtmann’s plant-based solutions and technologies? At which trade fairs and conferences will Handtmann be represented this year?
It is always possible to contact us via our sales department or our website. The next plant-based event we will be exhibiting at will be Plant Based World Expo London in November. I will also be attending some events and otherwise you are welcome to contact me directly.

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