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Plant protein process delivers sensory qualities of fat

Article-Plant protein process delivers sensory qualities of fat

© iStock/bymuratdeniz vegan plantbased burger, credit bymuratdeniz.jpg
​​​​​​​Gavan has developed a fat-replacing ingredient using a proprietary platform and process, which extracts proteins from plants in their natural state. These proteins are then combined to form a cohesive structure that binds vegetable oil and water, to produce an effective, affordable, and sustainable fat replacer, it says.

The concept was created by a group of entrepreneurs from diverse professions including world-famous Israeli chef, Uri Jeremias. 

“We called it Fatrix – the fat alternative with the X factor,” says Itai Cohen, Gavan’s co-founder and CEO. “The X factor is the ability to create versatile types of Fatrix for a wide range of categories. In each of them, Fatrix improves nutritional value, creates excellent textures, and delivers clean labels.”

Fat plays a pivotal role in our food. “The aroma, juiciness, tenderness, and overall mouthfeel comes from fat,” continues Cohen. “While fats have long been sourced from animals, there has been a collective effort to reduce our reliance on animal-based ingredients and embrace more plant-based ingredients. We felt that current options fell short of meeting the evolving demands of the food industry here.”   

Delivering on taste, functionality and nutrition

Cohen and his colleagues believe that Fatrix meets key industry needs, by delivering on taste, functionality, and nutrition. Indeed, many manufacturers are looking for ways of appealing to consumers who want nutritious, plant-based ingredients, but do not want to sacrifice on taste. 

“The most important thing for consumers remains taste,” says Cohen. “After that, they increasingly want something that is healthy and affordable. A challenge for many manufacturers is that many plant-based fat replacers on the market today are just not good enough. Tropical oils for example bring challenges in terms of sustainability, cookability, and nutritional value.”  

Developing healthier and sustainable alternatives

The company is currently working with potential customers. “No regulatory approval is required as the ingredients are all readily available,” says Cohen. “We expect that Fatrix will be on the market at the beginning of 2025. As we work closely with our customers, we understand that the scope of products we can serve is very wide.”

The current area of focus for Gavan is bakery. “We know that butter is not going away, but there is a need to find healthier and more sustainable alternatives,” says Cohen. “We know we have developed a good solution that brings the values and properties that consumers are looking for.”

Fatrix can effectively reduce the saturated fat content of final products by up to 80% while maintaining the texture, smoothness, and indulgent experience associated with real butter.

“Fatrix can also be used to substitute these fats in multiple industries, including alternative meat and dairy,” says Cohen. “Furthermore, it is heat-resistant, which is important for alternative meat applications like hamburgers. If you use palm oil, for example, this usually just drips out in the pan, and you don’t get a juicy burger.”

Expansion into other food categories

Gavan was a finalist in the Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient category of the Startup Innovation Challenge at last year’s Fi Europe. This provided the company with an opportunity to raise awareness within the industry and to show manufacturers what they are capable of. The next steps include the completion of a pilot production line next year and the possible expansion into other food products. Indeed, as Cohen points out, fat can be found in almost every food category.