Discover Benelux | Food & Drink | A Taste of the Netherlands
Tastes and looks like chicken TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN | PHOTOS: OJAH
The meat analogue industry is booming: with many people agreeing that the meat industry weighs heavy on our carbon footprint and with animal rights in mind, the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, and meat lovers might decide upon an alternative now and then. Especially now that some substitutes are nigh indistinguishable from the real thing. Ojah in the Dutch town of Ochten is responsible for a popular brand of soy-based imitation meat, combining know-how of biomaterials with the dream of a worldwide revolution. A ‘third generation meat analogue’ is how Frank Giezen from Ojah describes their ‘Beeter’ brand. A result of three smart minds: Giezen, Wouter Jansen and Jeroen Willemsen had their background in food engineering. Together, about ten years ago, the three came up with a unique process that turns soy proteins into a long, fibrous structure. By infusing it with water, they can regulate the tenderness of the meat-like
substance, creating a product that looks and tastes exactly like chicken and has the same nutritional value. The products are completely clean label and consist only of plant protein and water. Giezen: “Within a couple of years our ‘Beeter’ brand became a hit, not just in the Netherlands, but in other countries as well, where we export it as ‘Plenti’. Over here our product is sold through many supermarkets, wholesalers and to restaurants and catering companies. The demand has been so enormous we had to upscale to three production lines that are running 24 hours a day.” Giezen chuckles: “It’s crazy that we have to keep up with the demand for our product, but we kind of expected it; back when we started Ojah, we had the feeling this could become something very meaningful. We value sustainability and if we were able to create an alternative for chicken by using much less water, energy and raw materials, then that’s something to strive for.”
It comes as no surprise the company is already trying out new things. Proteins from yellow peas are being used as base for a substitute for beef, a product already being sold. Giezen: “We still have the same ambition as when we started: to become a world player on the meat analogues stage and have our products available to everyone. That’s a challenge, but one we’re seriously working on for the next 15 years.”
Issue 50 | February 2018 | 39
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.