‘A new phase for South America’: Brazil’s R&S Blumos invests $5.5m in plant protein

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags: plant protein, plant-based, Extrusion, Investment, Brazil

Brazilian firm R&S Blumos is investing US$5.5 million to supply wet extruded pea protein that it says is best for mimicking the texture of fresh meat and fish analogs.

The company is currently building a factory at one of its sites in Cotia, Sao Paulo, which will be finished in March 2020. The ingredients will be commercialized in the first half of 2020 with a capacity of 120 metric tons per month, growing to 500 mt by January 2021.

“This […] will mark a new development phase in the Brazilian and South American segments,” ​said Fernando Santana, the firm’s strategy and new business director.

The factory expansion will be the biggest investment in the history of the 11-year company.R&S Blumos already supplies dry texturized pea protein, natural binders, fibers, and starches but the recent investment in wet extrusion technology will allow it to make plant-based meat and create textures and structures otherwise not possible, it said.

The resulting products will be plant-based meats that duplicate the texture and flavor of fresh chicken, pork and fish, available to its food manufacturing and foodservice customers.

The company established a strategic partnership with The Wenger group, a leading manufacturer of extrusion processing equipment. Based in Kansas, US, the company developed the technology for high moisture meat analogues (HMMA).

Santana told FoodNavigator-LATAM: "Many companies today are using different kinds of dry texturized vegetable proteins (TVP) to create their meat analogues. Normally when you have dry TVP you are not able to have a long fiber structure. Using wet extrusion with the right ingredients we can create very nice long fiber structures that provide a great sensorial differentiation."

Santana added that, to the best of the company's knowledge, R&S Blumos will be the first food ingredient company to use wet extrusion technology for 'meatless meat' in South America.

The Brazilian company also worked with non-profit organization The Good Food Institute (GFI) to bring the products to market.

General director of the GFI in Brazil, Gustavo Guadagnini, said: “In order for the food industry to be able to transform itself and grow in a disruptive manner, there must be an offer of high-quality ingredients and innovative processes.“The first step in the transformation of the food chain production is exactly the one that companies like R&S Blumos are taking: investing in ingredients that are more sophisticated, sustainable and healthy, and which offer new applications and result in products that would not have been otherwise possible, transforming the eating habits of consumers.”

Belgian company Cosucra will be one of R&S Blumos’ main suppliers of pea protein. However, the Brazilian company said it is also investing in expanding its capacity to develop other plant-based protein concentrates using wet extrusion technology with pulses and cereals. R&S Blumos has operations in Vinhedo and Cotia in the Sao Paolo region and Navegantes in Santa Catarina.

What is wet extrusion?

Wet texturization is a relatively recent development that can produce a more fibrous structure and meat-like texture using twin-screw extrusion that combines both chemical and physical processes, such as thermomechanical cooking and die fibration, writes Tara McHugh, research leader at the USDA agricultural research service in an article published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

The extruded mass can be further treated so it can be chilled, textured, and molded into the desired shape, such as strips or burger-style patties. High-moisture texturized proteins are usually packaged as wet condition, such as in pouches or cans, or frozen.

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