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This morning, I read a great piece from Krista Garver at Food Industry Executive. It was an interview of Christie Lagally, CEO and founder of Rebellyous Foods. Christie is not only the keynote speaker at next week’s Process Expo Women’s Alliance Network Breakfast, she is also a guest panelist for the ‘Tomorrow’s Foods Today: Plant Based Proteins and Beyond” session taking place at the show on Wednesday, November 3rd.

What I really enjoyed reading from Krista’s interview with Christie is the challenge of making plant-based food with equipment designed primarily for the traditional meat processing industry.

In her words, “Currently, most mix-and-form production of plant-based meat is done in meat processing facilities using equipment like bowl choppers, tumblers, and conveyors — equipment that’s intended to deconstruct the animal carcass and bring it down into smaller pieces. This is literally the opposite of what we want in the plant-based meat industry.

We are trying to do constructive manufacturing. It’s the same process that bakers use when they make bread. They bring all sorts of things together that need to be cohesive — the flavors have to work together, the oil has to be distributed just right.”

I read these words with no technical expertise in food processing but rather as a consumer, and am fascinated. This market continues to grow at an astounding rate, and that is due by in large to the improvements in product development that have some consumers opting for these products, not just for health or sustainability concerns but rather for taste.

I guess it makes sense that “meat equipment” might not necessarily be the best equipment for these plant-based products.

I look forward to learning more about this and other aspects of the plant-based industry at Process Expo.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP