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Dutch-based Ojah may be an SME but it is a big player in the plant-based ingredients industry. Bastian Dijkstra, International Sales Manager at Ojah, explains how the plant-based foods market has taken off, and whets our appetite for the world's first 'vegan short ribs'.
How has the plant-based food trend evolved in the last two years?
"In 2017 we saw the market for plant-based foods rising as never before, moving from a niche to a market where plant-based products are part of the weekly groceries of many consumers.”
"Over the last two years, traditional meat companies have begun re-evaluating their businesses and adding plant-based options to their ranges, in order to secure market share in this fast-growing segment.”
"We see in newspapers and on social media that consumers are increasingly aware of the need to shift their diet, whether driven by concern for their own health, animal welfare or sustainability. All consumers need proteins, but they are looking for more variety of sources.”
"Plant-based foods are definitely no trend or hype that will fade away. They are here to stay and are a necessity if we are to produce sufficient food for the world population in the next 30 years."
Why is it helpful to have a plant-based pavilion at Fi Europe 2019?
"It is hard for an Fi Europe visitor to cover the trade show in only three days. The ProVeg Plant-based Experience creates a high density of plant-based solutions and suppliers in one particular area.”
"By highlighting the enormous assortment and potential of plant-based ingredients, the pavilion is the place to be for any food manufacturer that would like to tap into this thriving market addressing a fast-growing consumer group".
Who is the target consumer of such products?
"It is not just about catering to vegetarians or vegans, who tend to prefer whole vegetable-based products instead of products that mimic meat ‒ for example, a veggie burger that both looks and tastes like vegetables. It is mostly about seducing hardcore carnivores to start eating plant-based meals at least one day a week, in a way that is convenient and does not disrupt their existing food habits.”
"For products made with Ojah's high-moisture extruded (HME) plant-based protein ingredients under the Plenti trademark, the target consumer is flexitarian. These ingredients are designed for consumers who want plant-based products with the bite and fibrous texture of meat. Plenti can be flavoured to mimic chicken, pork or fish. The structure and bite can be manipulated to replicate the specific textural properties of diverse meat products."
Will you be showing any innovations at Fi Europe this year?
"We will be showing the world's first 'Vegan Short Ribs', that will appeal to all meaty BBQ-lovers. These short ribs will be dripping all over your lips and spoil your favourite T-shirt.”
"The innovation behind this application is called Heppi, and it is made of yellow peas. Applications made with Heppi serve consumers with around 25% protein and create a juicy, yet dense texture.”
"Ojah developed Heppi over the course of six years. We wanted to offer a new texture in addition to Plenti, that enables food manufacturers to create plant-based products with the desired 'WOW' effect.”
"To inspire our clients and the whole industry, we developed the vegan short ribs as the first application ourselves. This reflects the way Ojah operates in the field: we are not just developing and selling HME textures, we work in close collaboration with our clients and partners to create the best possible meat-free application that fits the needs of their target consumer and the character of their brand."
Will visitors be able to try the short ribs?
"Visitors will definitely have the opportunity to experience this breakthrough in the meat-free market, and we are looking forward to receiving feedback and discussing the possibilities and potential with Fi Europe visitors. Although the production capacity of Heppi will be limited for the first half of 2020, from Q3 2020 we will scale-up production rapidly."
What is Ojah's main target geographical market?
"This year we will be focusing on Western Europe, although when opportunities arise in other markets, Ojah is, of course, willing to discuss the possibilities.”
"Since 2018 Ojah has been in a joint venture with the Kerry Group, which became a shareholder in Ojah, together with the founders and Korys, the investment fund of the Belgian Colruyt family.”
"Kerry is an ingredient supplier with a global network. We collaborate on new technologies at Kerry's research centre, which will help us to achieve our global ambitions in due course."
Ojah will be exhibiting at Fi Europe in Hall 7, at Stand 7U171 (across from the ProVeg Plant-based Experience).