Loryma, a specialist supplier of functional ingredients made from wheat, has developed an innovative concept for vegan fish. Food Engineering & Ingredients talks to Norbert Klein, Head of R&D, about how it is processed, the market opportunities and the many possible applications for plant-based fish substitutes.
Food Engineering & Ingredients: As I understand it, Loryma develops all its products — starches, proteins, etc. — from wheat. Can you explain briefly why the company has this focus only on wheat to develop its products? What is so special about wheat? Norbert Klein:
Loryma has been involved in the development and production of wheat-based ingredients for more than 40 years. For the food industry, Loryma supplies wheat starches and functional blends, as well as textured wheat proteins for the production of vegetarian, vegan or hybrid meat alternatives. By focusing on this single raw material, we get the best out of every grain and unlock the power that’s inside. In terms of future-oriented meat alternatives, for example, wheat offers great potential: first of all, it contains nutritionally important constituents, such as amino acids and proteins. Secondly, with a yield of 99%, wheat is an environmentally friendly and crisisproof raw material that can be used in its entirety. Loryma is part of the Crespel & Deiters Group, which, in addition to serving the food industry, also produces wheat-based ingredients for animal feed and technical applications such as adhesives and paints. As such, there’s no waste, transport-related emissions are minimised through regional cultivation (75% comes from Germany, the rest from the EU) and the crop is strictly controlled, free from pollutants and genetically unmodified.
FEI: Can you explain briefly how you convert wheat into your various products – and what industry products you are able to develop from wheat?
NK: Once the grain is split into its components, we combine them to create functional ingredients that subsequently optimise the texture and nutrient profile of different products. They can be used to improve the structure, binding and mouthfeel of vegan and vegetarian alternatives, meat and baked goods, as well as cereals, convenience foods and snacks. These added-value natural components provide the bite in vegan burger patties or plant-based seafood and give snacks and bread-crumbed applications just the right crunch. Actually, our functional raw materials can replace conventional ingredients with e-numbers in many ways. [E numbers (“E” stands for “Europe”) are codes for substances used as food additives for use within the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Commonly found on food labels, their safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).]
FEI: Vegan fish is relatively unknown so far. Why do you think plant-based fish alternatives are important?
NK: As recently documented, the plant-based market trend has retained its top-three position as an industry driver for the last three years and will no doubt further increase demand for fish alternatives [according to Innova Market Insights, Top Ten Trends for 2021].