A homegrown food technology company is using the meaty flavours and aromas of the barbecue to solve some of the biggest barriers to the mass take-up of plant proteins.
Nourish Ingredients on Wednesday unveiled an animal-free fat that global food and ingredient makers can use to make products that cook, smell and taste like traditional meat.
Served up at the SXSW Sydney festival, the flagship product Tastilux is made with precision fermentation and gives a glimpse of what food could be like in the future.
A succulent “chicken wing”, created by Nourish Head of Culinary Innovation Ernesto Vecilla, includes edible bones made from calcium and dosed with vitamin D for an extra flourish of nutritional value and ingenuity.
“We're not a vegan company, most of our company enjoys animal products,” Nourish founder and CEO James Petrie told AAP.
“What we need to do is capture the imagination, capture the tastebuds of the majority of the population.”
The team started several years ago with a detailed dissection of beef, chicken and pork and discovered a small proportion of that animal fat was quite unusual.
“From a scientist's perspective, you have all these theories and it's fantastic when it actually plays out and works - because it doesn't always,” Mr Petrie said.
But plant-based foods need to be popular with consumers and a much larger part of agriculture production.
“The transition is inevitable ... and the reason it's going to happen is because we're looking at 10 billion people on the planet,” he said.
By focusing on these most potent fats needed to make plant proteins delicious, Tastilux is built to go global as a supplier, he said.
“Everyone says the flavour is in the fat, but what exactly does that mean?”
“We concentrated on that unusual animal-type fat and started to build it in fungal platforms - fungus and yeast,” Mr Petrie said.
“You get this wonderful complex mix of taste and aroma molecules that we associate with cooked meat.”
Most people would be very happy to try these plant protein foods, Mr Petrie said, but don't go back because they don't taste good enough.
“That's the market that we're chasing,” he said.
Founded by scientists from the national science agency CSIRO, Nourish is at the pre-commercial stage as a company and intends to raise more capital next year for an expansion.
© Nourish Ingredients Pty Ltd. 2023