Manufacturing & Technology

Clextral’s innovative developments in producing affordable and tasty alternative proteins

The world’s population is increasing. The living standards are rising in many countries. To satisfy the expanding demand for meat and fish consumption, industrial livestock and aquaculture production has multiplied. However, aware of the societal, ethical and environmental effects of an animal-based diet, more and more consumers are willing to reduce their meat and fish consumption by introducing healthy non-animal protein sources into their diets.

Mankind being omnivorous, we can anticipate that the global population will still, on average, include meat and fish in its diet. However, some of this consumption of meat and fish products could be replaced by another type of high protein food: plant-based meat and fish substitutes. One of the major challenges of the 21st century will be feeding the growing world global population, considering those societal constraints while producing affordable and tasty meat and fish substitutes.

An intense development of a new generation of meat and fish substitutes
Meat and fish substitutes are plant-based products that have the protein content, appearance, texture, and taste of real meat and fish products, and highly beneficial compositions containing essential amino acids with low or no cholesterol. Their production does not cause large-scale ethical or environmental impacts. Vegetable meat and fish substitutes have been produced for decades but found limited commercial success in the past. Yet, a new generation of meat and fish replacements is increasingly worldwide in demand today. Those substitutes are developed with improved ingredients and process technologies. The new generation of meat and fish substitutes matches specifically the texture, color and flavor characteristics of meat and fish products. So, it has led to an intense development of a new range of meat and fish substitutes over the last decade.

Image supplied by Clextral

Industrial extrusion process for two meat and fish substitute industries
Twin-screw extrusion is a continuous process by which a variety of food products are made on an industrial basis. For the different meat and fish substitute industries, twin-screw extrusion is used to produce two different kinds of ingredients depending on the moisture content during the extrusion processing: Texturized Vegetable proteins (TVP) and High Moisture Extrusion (HME). While TVP is the most plant-based ingredients used in volume by the industries to produce basic meat and fish substitutes, HME offers a range of products with a much more meaty or fish-like texture on mouth feeling, making those products ideal to increase the quality of the meat and fish substitutes.

Clextral helps the food transition to alternative proteins
Clextral has been a pioneer and expert in the HME process since the 1980s. The company is a leader in the food transition to alternative proteins and brings to the industries today product solutions that are more attractive to consumers and more profitable for manufacturers. That is why the Clextral process team continuously develops proven extrusion processes and equipment in the field of alternative proteins. Clextral is stimulating progress in the textures of the extruded products in order to enhance and improve them, while also achieving high productivity in order to help reduce the overall cost of such meat and fish substitutes.

Mastering extrusion flexibility to reduce production costs and improve quality
The continuous technology developed on Clextral extrusion platforms opens up infinite possibilities for parameterization and modularity (temperatures, cooking, cooling, pressure, shear rate, screw profile and speed, residence time, etc.). Mastering this flexibility is key for product innovation and the creation of new textures. The flexibility of Clextral equipment is still evolving and our latest research efforts are focused on the performance of new HME dies to obtain the next generation of alternative proteins and to boost capacities to help reduce the cost of plant-based products and improve their quality to better meet consumers’ expectations.

Image supplied by Clextral

Patented high-capacity die brings up to 1200kg/H of HME product
A couple of months ago, the Clextral patented High Capacity Die for HME, equipped with a double parallel outlet, was launched and it allows to double the capacity of the extrusion unit. Now it brings up to 1200 kg/h of HME product out of the extrusion die for the biggest extrusion lines. The two product ribbons exit the die at a similar speed, in a continuous flow, without a return pump. These twin ribbons produce the same stretching, hardness, and fibration characteristics. The product quality is stable and constant. The process is simple and it allows to produce more with the same footprint as a standard die.

The innovative patented Galaxy Texturation Technology structures new attractive products at high capacity
On the other side, the patented Galaxy Texturation Technology is underway and is the result of a synergy of two technologies to open a new textural space for HME products. Totally new, this technology combines the principles of a shear cell fibration process and the continuous extrusion process. The protein material is cooked in the extruder which continuously feeds the dynamic die. The structure and orientation of the fibers are different.

supplied by Clextral

In particular, the final structure of the product is due to the shearing and cooling of the dynamic die. The Galaxy Texturing Technology enables production of larger fibered products (whole cut type), without making concessions on the capacity. The products obtained are softer, and more tender, and the texture in the mouth is more delicate and equivalent to that of meat or fish.

Thus, 50 years after the “big bang” of twin-screw extrusion in the food industry, the “new textural space” opened by Galaxy Technology brings new opportunities for the production and consumption of alternative proteins, while HCD die brings more productivity to the HME extrusion production lines in order to reduce production costs.

Contact Emmanuel Lavocat (Process Engineer – Alternative Proteins Market Manager) for more information about twin-screw extrusion and alternative protein production: (+) 33 4 77 40 24 65.

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