Seara Alimentos harnesses food tech for plant-based products

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Oskar Helgason
© Getty Images / Oskar Helgason

Related tags: plant-based meat

A division of JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, is producing vegetable protein from an advanced food tech hub called the Incredible Lab in Brazil.

Catalyzing innovation for the company’s entry into the plant-based food market, the collaborative lab managed by Seara Alimentos brings together consumer, science, technology and gastronomy experts with the mission to stay ahead of global trends.

“The world is constantly changing. Today there is a new way for everything and with food it’s no different. The search for vegetable proteins is a reality and we want to be leaders in this segment,”​ says Joanita Karoleski, President of Seara Alimentos.

The lab is credited with the discovery of the Biomolecule i​, which the company says produces an “unprecedented taste and texture of meat”​ unlike anything else available in the market. The breakthrough is described as a combination of molecules and natural elements that are added to the fermentation to stimulate taste and olfactory receptors.

“It provides increased salivation, leaving the taste buds totally free for new flavors, making the perception and taste experience unmatched with even more unique and incredible juiciness,”​ says Renata do Nascimento, PhD in Food Technology and R&D and Innovation Manager at Seara Alimentos.

The lab is also working with Google and a special research committee to help fine-tune products and optimize technology to communicate with consumers.

Expanding the Incredible portfolio

Seara Alimentos first entered the plant-based market in May with the introduction of its Incredible Burger, a patty made from a blend of soy, wheat, onions, garlic and beets.

The recent announcement of an additional five new ready-to-eat products expands the company’s plant-based portfolio, launching in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in December and throughout Brazil in early 2020. 

These include two pea burgers that simulate beef and chicken, a breaded chicken-flavored soy snack, a beef-flavored soy kibe and the Oriental​ beef-flavored soy meat made with vegetables. All are enriched with iron and B12 vitamins and are free of transgenic ingredients, trans fat, lactose, egg and milk derivatives.

The expansion responds to a new generation of consumers who are increasingly connected and Google data that shows a 150% increase in vegetable protein searches over the past four years.

“The journey of the consumer who wants to invest in meatless food begins by understanding alternative ways of eating and is rapidly evolving towards products, recipes and restaurants,” ​says Marco Bebiano, business director for Consumer Goods, Technology and Government of Google Brazil, who predicts that the interest of Brazilian consumers in plant-based meat alternatives will continue to grow.

Seara Alimentos has already partnered with restaurant chains and retailers in Brazil including Allianz Parque, Applebee's, Rodeo, Detroit Steakhouse, Habib's, Ofner and Subway and says that it has more innovations brewing in the lab that will be announced soon.

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