Consumer demand for ready-to-cook plant-based meat alternatives is pushing brands to go beyond traditional freezer offerings into convenient, refrigerated products. Like meat, these products also run the risk of lipid oxidation, discoloration and developing off tastes and smells.

“Many consumers want to reduce meat intake while maintaining protein consumption, so they are substituting with plant-based meat alternatives that offer a taste and texture similar to meat,” said Courtney Schwartz, marketing director, Kemin Food Technologies-Americas, Des Moines, Iowa. “While shoppers are looking for these ‘better-for-you’ products to promote health and well-being, they are also mindful of choosing products that are convenient and easy to prepare. As manufacturers move from solely frozen, plant-based meat alternatives to new refrigerated options, protecting product integrity is critical to ensuring taste and meat-like texture remain intact.”

The Good Food Institute shared recent SPINSscan data reflecting rapid growth, as sales of refrigerated plant-based burgers grew 123% over the past year and 555% over the past two years. By comparison, frozen plant-based burger growth declined by 4% over the past year and grew at only 1% over the past two years.

“This shift toward fresh versus frozen leaves brands facing product quality challenges, as oxidation becomes an issue,” Schwartz said. “Now, you have a refrigerated product that is exposed to light oxidation, decreasing shelf life and quality much quicker. Fat systems are a key component of great-tasting, plant-based meat alternatives, yet the oxidation of fat and oil components in these products is a common challenge for brands. It can be very difficult to deliver the texture and flavor consumers desire, if your product isn’t properly protected from oxidation.”

Kemin offers rosemary extract, which provides label-friendly oxidation control. This helps extend shelf life, delay flavor degradation to maintain taste and texture, and retain color so products have visual appeal. The ingredient is domestically grown and organic options are available. It comes in oil- and water-dispersible formats, in both dry and liquid forms and in a variety of concentrations.