Plant-based & vegetarian food

Trusted partner for the plant-based and vegetarian industry

Meat replacement & vegetarian food
Driven by ethical, environmental and health reasons, many consumers are changing their eating habits and opting for a more plant-based diet. How can food processors profit from the rising interest for plant-based meat alternatives and vegetarian food and at the same time deliver to the high consumer needs for taste, texture and nutritional value while producing more responsibly? By identifying the right technology partner.

At GEA we begin by getting a complete picture and understanding of what food manufacturers want to achieve. Once the product is defined, we work backwards starting with the desired end-result, then identify the right processes and equipment for creating a technology solution that is both optimized and capable of producing a consistent, a high-quality product. 

For decades GEA has been the trusted partner for the plant-based and meat alternative category, working hand in hand with customers from the creation of a product idea to its realization into a compelling consumer product. 

Meat replacement and plant based applications

Full technology provider

GEA offers a full technology portfolio – from single machines to turnkey solutions -  comprising of extrusion technology of Texturized Vegetable Proteins, cutting, mixing, emulsifying and grinding of ingredients to form a dough, and further down the line to forming, coating, frying or cooking, chilling, freezing and ultimately packaging of meat alternative and vegetable-based foods and components, destined for retail, foodservice as well as the quick-service-restaurant market

A network of GEA Technology centers is at every step of the way to support your choices with lab tests, recipe testing, equipment trials, scaling up advice, validation, training, as well as process and product optimization. Our food technologist, equipment experts and innovative machinery portfolio help manufacturers bring products to life with consistent, repeatable quality, optimized profitability, and high process control during production. Close collaboration between the GEA Extrusion Technology Center in Galliera Veneta, Italy and the Food Processing GEA Technology Center in Bakel, The Netherlands bring important advantages to customers, such as to get insight into the complete process, safeguard high quality, and fine tune to their specific needs.

So, whether you want to produce Texturized Vegetable Protein granules (TVP) or finished consumer foods like plant-based burgers, nuggets or filets, GEA is your single technology partner of choice. 

Expanding possibilities for plant based and vegetarian food

Either straightforward alternatives to meat and seafood, or a brand-new innovative consumer product, GEA expertise and leading technology gives manufacturers the flexibility to create foods, based on different sources, including: frozen vegetables and vegetable-based mixes, Texturized Vegetable Proteins (TVP), soy, pea or wheat-based protein, single-cell protein (e.g., mycoprotein) and other plant-based proteins.  

Hybrid versions, based largely on the above sources or new combinations are also an option, expanding the possibilities to variate and innovate in your portfolio offer. Producing in a more sustainable way by using less energy, less water and minimizing resources and waste is at the foundation of how we design our equipment and solutions. Tap into countless opportunities and benefit from GEA’s extrusion and processing technology for the plant based and vegetarian food markets. 

Plant-based chicken with nutri crumb coating

Discover a typical process from extrusion to a finished product

Extrusion

Textured Vegetable Proteins (TVP) are created by extruding the mix of flours, which deconstructs the globular structure and then realigns it into fibers to obtain customizable products that mimic the texture of meat or fish. GEA, with its proven XTru Twin extrusion technology, offers the ability to manage variable thermo-hygrometric conditions to adapt to the characteristics of the raw material, maintain high-process temperatures for optimal texturization and protein denaturation leading to reduced solubility and water loss. This process is applicable for both dry and wet vegetable protein texturization.

Cutting

GEA CutMaster bowl chopper prepares each element of the mix starting with rehydration of the Textured Vegetable Proteins, cutting the coconut butter and emulsifying the ingredients. Thanks to its vacuum technology, high rotation speed and robust design, water, oil and plant-proteins and/or binding agents are emulsified, delivering the optimum consistency, temperature and texture for the next step.

Mixing

The way the ingredients are mixed defines the success of the final food product. GEA ProMix, is a flexible twin shaft mixer that caters variety of purposes. When frozen vegetables are used, tempering by steam under vacuum shortens the process and ensures workable consistency. The hydration of the plant-based proteins under vacuum, speeds up the process while moisture is better absorbed in the dough. Finally, emulsions can be mixed with herbs, spices, starch, flavor, salt and binding agents depending on the desired end product.

Grinding

Griding can be used at the preparation step before mixing or after mixing of the dough in order to control the fiber length, which is important of the final product. For example, plant-based chicken needs longer fibers and minced meat or burger mimics need shorter fibers and bite. GEA ComboGrind technology can be used in combination of the respective whole plates and knifes to suit the recipe.

Forming

With GEA forming equipment there is almost no limit to the shapes and sizes you can create. Mixes are handled appropriately by different forming systems to preserve quality and structure while achieving maximum quality down the line. MaxiFormer is a high-capacity drum former for high-speed production of long-run products with excellent shape retention and weight accuracy. Alternatively GEA MultiFormer is an excellent choice when flexibility in shapes during production is required.

Coating

The right coating adds value to your food products. And now, in line with the trend towards healthier eating and lower fat intake, you need more accurate control over coating parameters. GEA industrial food coating solutions give you this control - plus the capability to cost-effectively produce an appetizing variety of products. GEA offers complete solutions for crumb breading, tempura coating and flour coating.

Heat Treatment

Frying sets the coating and cooks the substrate while enhancing taste and appearance, adding crispiness and crunch. Should you not use frying, cooking, steaming and even smoking in our spiral ovens is an option to finalize your consumer product.

Freezer

GEA spiral freezers and chillers discretely handle products at capacities up to 7 tons per hour. Using high-efficiency airflow and evaporators, they maximally transfer heat and optimize product quality and yield. Through energy-efficient design, our spiral freezers also satisfy industry requirements while saving costs to boost your profit.

Packaging

GEA’s Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS) and horizontal thermoforming packaging technology are both flexible solutions that cover various packaging styles suited for high speed, high quality packing of your finished product in reliable, sustainable and highly efficient way.

Interested to learn how we can support you with other technology and know-how for the development and production of plant-based proteins, alternative proteins and protein-rich components? GEA has the unique position to offer a complete portfolio as an enabler of the New Food industry, by supporting start-ups, ingredient suppliers and food processors to develop, scale-up and produce the nutritious new foods consumers are looking for.

Products & technologies

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Vivera, the Netherlands | Formed plant-based products coming out MultiFormer

Vivera, the Netherlands

Helping the world eat less meat

Vivera in The Netherlands, a company specializing in the production on vegan and vegetarian foods, has partnered with GEA since its inception in 1990. That relationship has helped the company develop its leading range of products and achieve success.
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