Almost a third of adults eat meat alternatives at least once a month. Younger consumers are even more likely to do so. Similarly, one-third of restaurant diners between the ages of 18 and 34 pick meat-free entrées as their first choice.
That’s a big part of what’s driving forecasts of the plant-based protein market to be worth an estimated $13.3 billion in 2023, and grow to $19.2 billion by 2028.
With our commitment to feeding, fueling, and building a better world, it’s no wonder that CPM is closely involved with nearly every aspect of the plant-based protein and meat-alternative industry.
CPM’s Role in Meat Alternatives
In very broad terms, the production of plant-based protein concentrates derived from oilseeds (soy, canola/rapeseed, sunflower, etc.) is a two-step process. In the first step, oil (fat) is extracted or removed from the oilseed, which results in a defatted meal, sometimes referred to as white flake. In the second step, carbohydrates and other antinutrients are extracted or removed from the meal or white flakes.
The product from this two-step process is a plant protein concentrate that’s a critical ingredient of many meat alternatives on the market today.
According to Alex Danelich, Global Vice President of Specialty Sales, CPM Engineered Solutions, there are three key characteristics that are required for the plant-based products to succeed: “Taste, texture, and price.”
“You have to crack the code on taste, or nobody will want it,” says Danelich. “You need texture so it handles well in your mouth, and people need to be able to afford it.”
CPM’s brand, Crown, has been instrumental in perfecting this process. Crown has been manufacturing industrial equipment for the oilseed industry since the late 1940s. Today, according to Danelich, close to 80% of the world’s soy-protein concentrate is produced on CPM’s Crown equipment, with nearly 100% of soy-protein concentrate production for human consumption in Europe and North America on CPM’s Crown equipment.
CPM also provides solutions to the production of plant-based protein from other sources, including canola or rapeseed protein concentrate and sunflower protein concentrate. Canola/rapeseed protein concentrate technology includes a novel dehulling system, and both canola/rapeseed and sunflower include white flake processes.
After the plant-based protein concentrate is produced, the process moves into the next phase of production: processing and combining those proteins with other ingredients to make appealing and delicious meat alternatives.
“It’s almost like a very complicated recipe in a cookbook,” says Andrew Hollister, Vice President for Business Development and Strategy, CPM Process Solutions. “Aquaculture and shrimp are happy to eat almost any texturized plant protein pellets with the correct nutritional balance. But us humans have a more refined palate, and convincing us takes a bit more final product sophistication, definition, and work.”
Creating meat alternatives that can appeal to our palates involves a whole range of technologies from CPM.
Specialized cooking extruders from CPM’s brand, IDAH, can clean, dose, mix, and blend ingredients to mimic the texture and flavor of meat with plant-based ingredients. Crumblers and feeders from CPM and its brand, Bliss, can perform important size-reduction and ingredient feeding processes. Bakers, dryers, conveyors, and coolers from CPM’s brand, Wolverine Proctor, can cook and refine the final product. And over it all, CPM’s automation solutions can improve efficiency, quality, and process control.
Innovating the Future of Plant-Based Protein
We’ve come a long way from the early days of plant-based meat alternatives, but there’s still plenty of progress to be made. CPM is helping that process with its industry-based collaboration and innovation centers.
CPM’s innovation centers and labs — with locations in the United States, Europe, and Asia — are reconfigurable mini-factories where CPM and our customers can collaborate on new solutions to challenges facing the future of our industry and the planet. Whether that’s developing innovative processes for plant-based protein extraction and preparation, or new techniques for turning that protein into meat alternatives, our innovation centers, equipment, and engineers are up to the challenge.
Our innovation centers let our internal team and customers test newly developed processes on a small scale before creating a large-scale production line.
Other Roles for Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based proteins have a wide range of applications beyond their important role in meat alternatives. Plant-based proteins are also used in aquafeed, pet food, animal livestock and poultry nutrition, bioplastics, textiles, edible films, coatings, and more.
CPM plays an important part in providing equipment, services, and expertise to many of these industries.
At CPM, feeding, fueling, and building a better world are at the center of our identity. Our work and innovation in the field of plant-based proteins are just one of the ways we can make meaningful progress toward those goals every day.
If you’re looking for a dedicated partner who can help you reach your goals for more sustainable, appealing, and affordable plant-based meat alternatives, we’d be happy to help.