- Artificial intelligence-powered food tech company Shiru launched OleoPro, its first ingredient. OleoPro is a plant-based fat that combines plant proteins and unsaturated oil.
- OleoPro can hold its shape at room temperature, brown when cooked, give a juicy mouthfeel to plant-based applications and reduce saturated fats in plant-based products by 90%, the company says.
- Plant-based meat products have traditionally relied on less healthy fats that don’t always perform like their animal counterparts, such as coconut oil. Shiru is one of several companies working on new options.
OleoPro can improve the consumer experience of eating plant-based meat products, as well as their nutritional profiles.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on taste or texture to make sustainable, nutritious food choices, and we know novel ingredients are crucial to unlocking the next generation of plant-based foods,” Jasmin Hume, Shiru’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Oils commonly used in plant-based meats today like palm and coconut are disastrous for the environment and aren’t great from a health perspective either.”
OleoPro was created using Shiru’s Flourish platform, which incorporates a wide variety of scientific information to generate plant protein insights. Shiru uses existing databases and bioinformatics to analyze which proteins provide functions in different ingredients, and then applies machine learning and AI to determine which proteins are in plants.
Shiru is looking to both recreate animal-derived ingredients and make ingredients like OleoPro, which improve upon existing choices. Current options, including coconut oil and palm oil, are often higher in saturated fat and not always beneficial for the environment. The behavior and taste of these oils, which can melt out of products and impart a taste, also can negatively impact the eating experience.
Several companies are using food tech to improve plant-based fats, with Shiru’s OleoPro one of the first to get on the market.
Cubiq Foods has been working to create both optimized plant-based and cultivated fats.
Cubiq recently entered a co-development and go-to-market partnership with Cargill. The U.S. agribusiness giant is making Cubiq’s Go!Drop line of plant-based fats available now. Startup Yali Bio, which is still in its R&D phase, uses precision fermentation to create fats such as those naturally occurring in animal meat and dairy.
This is Shiru’s first official market entry, but the company is working on several other ingredients.
CP Kelco partnered with Shiru last year to develop and scale up new ingredients that are more sustainable or natural solutions for common components, including emulsifier methylcellulose. Shiru also has worked with bakery ingredients maker Puratos to evaluate and scale alternatives for egg proteins in baked goods.
It’s a good time to launch a fat ingredient that can improve plant-based meat. Sales in this segment have slowed, with growth rates stagnant or dropping. Analysts have said that one of the reasons is consumers are not satisfied with products on the market now. Being able to create products with a better eating experience and mouthfeel, as well as an improved health profile, can only help.