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Plant-based meat alternatives present new yeast extract opportunity, claims industry body chief
Growing product development within the meat alternative and vegan/plant-based space is creating a new opportunity for yeast extracts to offer a savory flavor and clean label edge. Ongoing industry trends towards sodium and sugar reduction, coupled with an overarching theme towards sustainability are creating further opportunity for ingredients that are enjoying renewed potential amid the fermented foods revival. This is according to Gerard Hardeman, President of EURASYP (European Association for Specialty Yeast Products), whose daily role is Business Unit Director.
In a detailed interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Hardeman explains that the market for yeast extracts is growing at 3-4 percent, spurred by clean label & health trends in developed markets and a strong demand for processed food in developing regions.
"Growth is down to two reasons" Hardeman explains. "The first is that in emerging markets, more and more processed food is being produced. Yeast Extract is a very versatile ingredient for savory foods and appearing in all sorts of applications. Secondly, if we look to the established markets of western Europe and the US, but also developed Asian markets and Australia, we see that yeast extract is being used to go in line with the health trends in the market. The rise of natural ingredients and clean label, means that yeast extracts are being increasingly used for those types of applications too.”
Yeast Extract has a strong taste of its own, and only a small amount is needed to produce flavorful results. It, therefore, represents less than 1 percent of most dishes. Many fresh products – such as tomatoes, peas and mushrooms – naturally contain glutamate. Our body also produces glutamate, regardless of the food we consume. Indeed, it is naturally present in saliva and breast milk. It is also one of the many natural components of yeast extract, in a concentration roughly equivalent to 5 percent. Yeast extract is regularly mistaken for monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that is 100 percent glutamate salt, the group stresses. Unlike yeast extract, MSG does not have a flavor of its own and only serves to make existing flavors stronger. According to the requirements of the European Food Law, yeast extract is labeled as either "yeast extract" or "natural flavor"; on the ingredients list of a product.
In terms of applications for yeast extract, Hardeman notes continued interest in the sodium reduction space. "Over the last years, we have seen a very strong trend in both established and emerging markets, where salt is being taken out of savory foods. Yeast extract is a very versatile ingredient for bringing back the full taste of salt. Salt may be the cheapest taste ingredient in the savory food sector, but by adding yeast extracts instead of salt, you can bring back the full body and original taste economically" he notes.
Global meat alternatives have moved far beyond the niche vegetarian and vegan domain to encompass a much broader base of flexitarians and reducetarians, as industry's capabilities to replicate real meat improve. According to data from Innova Market Insights, meat substitutes accounted for 11 percent of new product launches in the meat, poultry and meat substitutes category reported in Europe in 2018 (Jan-Sep), up from 9 percent in 2013. The global picture shows stronger growth still, with 14 percent of meat launches in the first nine months of 2018 being meat alternatives. This compares with 6 percent in 2013.
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