Motif Foodworks is on a mission to improve the taste and texture of plant-based foods, and in June 2021, the company raised $226 million USD to do exactly that. This week, the food-tech company made its most recent product called HEMAMI commercially available for large-scale distribution to its customers.
HEMAMI appears to be the combination of the words “umami” and “heme”. This novel ingredient is a heme protein derived from yeast, created via precision fermentation. Heme is a molecule that contains iron, and it is found in high concentrations in the blood of animals and humans. According to the company, HEMAMI can be used to improve the aroma and flavor of plant-based meat analogs likes burgers, sausages, chicken, and more.
Plant-based heme (made from a base of soy) is what gives Impossible Burger the realistic meat flavor and its “bleeding” texture. A Chicago-based start-up called Back of the Yards Algae Sciences developed spirulina-derived heme that can be sprayed onto plant-based burgers and other analogs to provide a meatier flavor.
Motif Foodworks’ HEMAMI also received the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) letter. In the letter, the yeast-based heme was approved as a flavor and aroma additive for plant-based meat. Motif also submitted a Color Additive Petition for its new ingredient to be used as a color additive, and this is still pending approval.
Many consumers have swapped out meat for plant-based alternatives due to health, environmental, and ethical reasons, but flavor and texture may still be holding them back from doing so. According to the report, “Climate Change and the American Diet”, two out of three Americans would eat more plant-based alternatives if they tasted better. Ingredients like HEMAMI may be the key to unlocking better plant-based meats. Motif has also created an ingredient called APPETEX that mimics the texture of animal tissue using plants, spearheading the common complaint of alternative products having an unrealistic texture.
Interested in trying HEMAMI? Motif Foodworks will be offering samples of plant-based burgers made with HEMAMI at the Plant-Based World Expo in New York on December 9th and 10th.