Plant-based drinks and meatless burgers: what's in substitute products

16-Mar-2022 - Germany

The concept of a more sustainable diet involves eating less animal-based foods and more plant-based foods. Resource-conserving consumption and the promotion of one's own health are important goals here. Retailers are expanding their product ranges accordingly. TÜV SÜD provides an overview of these innovations.

Photo by Austin Wilcox on Unsplash

Plant-based foods are in vogue. Consumers are finding more and more variety in the food service and retail sectors: starting with soy drinks in the 1970s, other milk substitutes made from legumes, almonds or cereals gradually followed. Plant-based burgers have been establishing themselves on the market for about ten years. Imitations for fish, seafood, caviar and egg are now also available. A completely new product line has gained a foothold worldwide. As the table shows, very different plant-based product categories exist today. The properties of animal proteins in particular cannot be fully imitated by plant-based raw materials and must be compensated for by other ingredients or additives.

Substitute products: Examples of product variants, raw materials and ingredients

  • Dairy products: Drinking milk, yogurt, hard cheese, cream cheese, butter - Raw materials: soy, oats, almond, lentils, lupins, hemp - Ingredients : Water, vitamins, minerals, sugar, salt, stabilizers, coconut, peas, rice emulsifiers, natural flavors, colors and preservatives.

  • Meat & sausage products: Tea sausage, ham, ready-to-fry cutlets, meatballs - Raw materials: green spelt, lupins, soy, wheat flour, jackfruit, beans, chickpeas - Ingredients : Water, modified starch, binders, stabilizers, acidity regulators, sugar, salt, fat, emulsifiers, colorants and preservatives.

  • Seafood and fish products: Shrimp, caviar, fish sticks - Raw materials: tofu or wheat protein, vegetables, mushrooms, jackfruit, algae - Ingredients: Algae oil, flax, rapeseed, hemp and walnut oil, vegetable juice.

  • Egg products: Liquid egg, scrambled egg, mayonnaise - Raw materials: algae, peas, beans - Ingredients : Water, mung bean protein isolates, canola oil, dried onion, natural colors, natural flavors, salt, soy lecithin, sugar, tapioca syrup, phosphates, enzymes, preservatives.

  • Sustainability

    Experts view the search for climate-friendly diets and protein sources as fundamentally positive. The new variety scores above all in terms of better climate balances. The price for this is a long ingredient list. "A lot of technological effort is needed to emulate the natural models for milk, meat and other animal foods in terms of taste, smell, appearance and processing properties," explains TÜV SÜD expert Dr. Andreas Daxenberger. The somewhat lower nutritional value of vegetable proteins is of no consequence to most people if the protein supply is adequate, as it is in our part of the world.


    Here there are special regulations in the substitute products to avoid misleading among consumers. Since 2017, plant-based drinks may no longer be marketed under names such as "milk," "cream," "butter," "cheese," "whey," "buttermilk" or "yogurt." In 2018, the German Food Book Commission also issued guiding principles for vegan and vegetarian foods with similarities to animal foods. These regulate, for example, the terms, names, or presentations of the products.

    In most supermarkets, plant-based substitutes are located on dedicated shelves. It is important for consumers to look carefully at the list of ingredients. Allergen labeling regulations apply to alternative products just as they do to all other foods. This is because some plant-based alternatives can cause allergic reactions in allergy sufferers: For example, a drink that is supposed to resemble milk may contain almonds, a roast may contain lupins, or a sausage product may contain soy or soy lecithin. If you are unclear about allergens and the general labeling of substitute foods, it often helps to check with the manufacturer.

    Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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