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On a mission to develop tasty meat alternatives with a smaller environmental footprint

Meatless Burger developed bij Caldic New Zealand

While national lockdowns with a ‘stay at home’ message have encouraged people to rediscover the joys of home cooking, the interest in healthy and eco-friendly food continued to grow in New Zealand. Farnaz Faridnia, Business Development Manager for Caldic New Zealand, teamed up with one of the country’s leading producers of meat alternatives to respond to the fast-growing market for plant-based alternatives to meat products. 

“Veganism and flexitarianism are big trends all around the world, and plant-based eating is taking the world by storm,” says Farnaz Faridnia. “In fact, the demand for meat substitutes has been growing at a rate of more than 30 percent in recent years.” The top four reasons for considering plant-based alternatives, she adds, are health and nutrition, diet variety, sustainability, and taste. She points out, however, that a ‘vegan’ or plant-based label is not a guarantee that a product is healthier than a more traditional one. 

On a mission

Healthier and more sustainable products were precisely what Farnaz’s customer was looking for. “The company was on a mission to formulate meat alternatives that not only taste great, but also have a smaller environmental footprint in terms of greenhouse gases, water consumption, and packaging. Our brief was to help them to develop a range of products using carefully selected, nutritious, plant-based ingredients while securing protein quantity, quality and digestibility.” 
“It was a great opportunity for us to support them in their development,” Farnaz continues. “I started working closely with this customer, providing technical support and assistance during the formulation and development of a new range of plant-based meat analogs. I worked with Caldic Canada to help develop new suppliers for the plant-based market as well as discussing technical aspects with the R&D specialists from their Savory Team.”

Daily feedback loops

Caldic New Zealand is now supplying more than 15 different ingredients to its customer, and the product range, which includes mince, burger patties, sausages, and ready meals, has been introduced over the past year and a half, beginning in early 2020. “During the development phase,” says Farnaz, “we were in daily contact with them, discussing ingredients, recipes, dosage requirements, and production processes. We’re located in different parts of New Zealand, so they’d work in their production facility and provide us with feedback on taste, texture, juiciness, and color, and then we’d consult with them on solutions by modifying the formulations to improve the products.” 

Shaping future demand

Farnaz says that Caldic New Zealand is in an excellent position to build on the foundation it has now established in this promising market. She notes that, in addition to her colleagues in Canada, Caldic Shanghai has also provided important support on sourcing. “Considering New Zealand’s isolated location, it helps a lot to know that we are just a phone call or an email away from expert advice from our sister companies around the world. I’m very optimistic about what is to come. We’re focusing on food trends such as sustainability and natural and plant-based products that are shaping future demand, and we’ve established relationships with some of New Zealand’s most innovative companies to deliver a range of tailored and value-add solutions that perfectly match their requirements.”