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Functional proteins give formulators clean-label gelling solutions

Article-Functional proteins give formulators clean-label gelling solutions

© Meala Foodtech meala burger2 copyright Meala Footech RS.jpg
Functional proteins designed to be used as binding and gelling agents – and capable of delivering the taste and texture that consumers demand – are creating new opportunities in the plant-based innovation space.

Consumers today are far more aware of the food they are eating, and increasingly looking for products with clean labels and good nutritional value. At the same time, of course, they are not willing to compromise on texture or taste.

Meala saw a market opportunity here to provide food manufacturers with the ingredients to formulate the products that customers are asking for.

“Meala FoodTech is on a mission to revolutionise the food industry, by developing new ingredients and processes that allow the creation of cleaner, better-for-you products,” explained Hadar Ekhoiz Razmovich, CEO and co-founder of Meala FoodTech.

“Our functional proteins are designed to be used as binding and gelling agents, with superior water retention. The aim is to improve texture and juiciness, while cleaning up labels and adding nutritional value.”

Ahead of the curve

Like many startups, Meala faced a number of initial challenges.

“At the beginning, people weren’t sure that there was a need for these new ingredients,” said Razmovich. “I think we were ahead of the curve, though, because today no one is doubting the customer demand for these.”
From the beginning, Meala’s strategy revolved around handling ingredients in a natural manner. A breakthrough was the development of a naturally texturised protein, created through a natural process. This makes it suitable for clean labelling, as well as promoting wellbeing for individuals and the environment alike.

“Our proteins showcase exceptional water retention and gelation properties, coupled with a more fat-like quality when incorporated into meat analogues,” said Razmovich. “This results in a tender, juicier, and more succulent bite compared to competitors.”

Razmovich believes that another thing that makes Meala stand out is the fact that its protein can deliver an “all-in-one” solution for formulators. This means that manufacturers can take out undesired ingredients and clean up their labels.

Growing demand from industry

Industry reaction, so far, said Razmovich, has been very positive. Meala was a finalist at Fi Europe’s Startup Innovation Challenge (SUIC), in the Most Innovative Plant-Based or Alternative Ingredient category. This helped to further raise the company’s profile. 

“We are seeing huge demand from industry for our product,” she said. “This is increasing every day, along with growing awareness of clean labels and ingredient lists.”

The company’s first target market is plant-based meat producers. As its technology is a platform technology, the company intends to expand into other market segments, such as eggs, fish, baking, and more.  

“With Meala protein, producers will be able to create great products with great texture, clean label[s], and better nutritional value,” added Razmovich.

Establishing a strong global presence

Moving forward, Razmovich sees Meala as gradually establishing a strong global presence, reaching new markets and collaborating with plant-based food producers worldwide.

This will involve forming strategic partnerships, distribution agreements, and a targeted approach to enter key regions where the demand for plant-based alternatives is on the rise.
“For us, participation in the SUIC aligned with our goals of raising awareness about our groundbreaking approach to plant-based protein products,” she said. “The challenge offered an opportunity to present our unique binding and gelling agent technology to a discerning audience, gaining visibility and credibility within the industry.

“Last year’s Fi Europe also helped us to understand market dynamics, refine our strategies, and position ourselves in the competitive landscape of food ingredient startups.”