Product developers are wise to understand that many health- and wellness-conscious consumers are seeking meatless, but high-quality protein, main dish options.
It’s worth noting that during the past decade scientists have discovered that high-quality protein influences numerous bodily functions, most notably prevention of muscle loss and maintenance of muscle function. High-quality protein also provides a sense of fullness, which in turn can assist with weight loss and weight management.
Egg products are an economical high-quality protein ingredient for meatless formulations. Not only do they contribute complete proteins to the formulation, they also provide a number of desirable functions. According to Mintel GNPD, 101 egg-containing meatless new products positioned as an alternative for similar meat-containing products have emerged between January 1, 2008 and September 30, 2013 in the United States.
There are more than 40 different proteins in a whole egg, some exclusive to the white and others to the yolk. Egg whites, which are mostly water and protein, when dried, are a concentrated source of high-quality protein. Yolks are also a source of essential fatty acids.
Egg proteins influence the rate of denaturation and coagulation, which in turn are responsible for a number of the more than 20 unique functionalities that egg products bring to product formulations, such as binding ingredients, foaming and tenderization. Egg proteins also contribute to desirable browning.
For example, Lightlife Foods, Turners Falls, MA, recently entered the frozen foods business with the debut of two product lines: Chik’n Entrees and Veggie Burgers. The company combines a variety of non-meat proteins, including egg whites, in order to tout the fact that each serving contains 14 to 20 grams of protein, varying by product.
Elmwood Park, NJ-based Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods is addressing meatless breakfast needs with a new frozen sausage-like patty product. The company combines soy and wheat proteins with egg whites and the traditional spices associated with pork sausages. A 38-gram patty contains 80 calories, 4 grams of fat, none of which quantify as saturated, and 7 grams of protein. Similar pork-based patties contain about the same amount of protein, yet are typically double the calories and the fat, and can be a source of saturated fat.
Egg products, in particular dried egg whites, can assist with the development of meatless center-of-plate offerings.