Heme for alternative protein foods
Alternative Proteins

Is heme the magic flavour ingredient?

Is heme the magic flavour ingredient for taste parity of alternative proteins with conventional meat? Using the soy derived version certainly hasn’t hurt Impossible Foods! We now have multiple companies like Motif FoodWorksYemoja Ltd. and Back of the Yards algae sciences (BYAS) developing or releasing heme ingredient products.

One of the latest entrants is Belgium based Paleo. When their heme product is added to a planbased burger then “The burger with bio-identical beef heme smells like a burger, changes colour when cooked like a burger and tastes like a beef burger – the other one just doesn’t.” It also offers a nutritional boost as its iron is more bioavailable than iron in vegetables.

Heme is touted as a silver bullet for mimicking the flavour of animal products, but that seems unlikely. The Impossible product is very good, but still not an exact match to animal products. With so many options how many companies adopt heme as an ingredient will be interesting to see.

Matching animal product flavour is not far away, but more than heme will be required. And with all of the large flavour houses and ingredients companies now involved in the space the R&D resources are certainly available to make it happen.

Taste parity isn’t far away, but will it include heme? Only time will tell.

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