India’s BVeg Foods is set to become one of the country’s first large plant to offer high moisture extrusion (HME) technology. The move comes thanks to a strategic partnership with Swiss machinery leader Bühler. Acquisition of the HME equipment will allow BVeg to create a state-of-the-art production plant for continued development of its plant-based proteins.
BVeg has noted that the new tech will prove vital in the pursuit of realistic meat textures. Whole muscle meat replication has, until now, proven difficult. HME equipment could be the final piece of the puzzle for the Indian food tech.
Leaders in their fields
Both BVeg and Buhler are noted as innovators and leaders within their respective sectors. The two coming together represents the increase in investment and pace of developments within the plant-based industry. Identified as a key market driver, India is an ideal recipient of improved plant-based protein.
“In the rapidly transforming plant-based food ecosystem, innovation is key. We believe that only by continuously innovating ourselves and delivering a diversified range of products that are customized to consumer needs can we satisfy their palates and achieve our objective of replacing conventional meat across the globe without compromising on taste or nutrition,” BVeg co-founder and COO Prateek Ghai said in a statement. “It’s this approach we believe in here, at BVeg Foods, to build a better and more sustainable future.”
The company has acknowledged that the Covid-19 outbreak proved challenging for most sectors, but that it afforded an opportunity for BVeg to set itself apart as an Indian pioneer. The decision to invest in Bühler technology was made during the height of the pandemic.
Why high moisture extrusion technology (HME)?
HME is recognised globally as an effective way to replicate animal protein textures, of various types. Chicken, fish, pork and beef analogues, amongst others, are thought to be improved using the extrusion process, creating whole muscle cut mouthfeels. Other sensory parameters are positively impacted alongside, including appearance, taste and smell. The new extruder bought by BVeg has the capacity to create the equivalent of 3,000 chicken breasts per hour.
“We are very pleased to support BVeg on their journey and provide a platform for customers to accelerate their product innovations with the best processing equipment and knowledge from Bühler,” Christoph Vogel, head of market segment proteins & ingredients of the Bühler Group said in a statement. Ajith Dharan, head of sales, added, “India has a huge potential to become the protein powerhouse in the region.”
BVeg already boasts the largest plant-based protein production facility in India, generating 4,000 tonnes per year. The new equipment will allow the company to further explore whole muscle cut products, alongside filled items, formed and hand-folded, according to client specifications.
India’s appetite for plant-based foods
India has been identified as a country to watch in terms of its burgeoning alternative protein sector. Covering a diverse spectrum of independent startups, conglomerates and food industry adjacent interests, there’s no denying the sector is growing.
At the start of the year, Swiggy and GoodDot revealed they are working together to bring plant-based foods to more Indian doorsteps. The revelation came shortly after ITC revealed it had witnessed a surge in consumer demand for vegan foods and would itself be entering the sector.
Savvy Indian brands are looking to leverage the power of domestic celebrities. In February, it was announced that Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli had been named as investors in and ambassadors of Blue Tribe Foods. The two released a YouTube video to their millions of social media followers to talk about why they are now vegan and how the company’s products helped them to make the switch.
Lead photo by BVeg Foods.