Motif FoodWorks, the animal-free ingredient company, has announced a partnership with the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia, to test and identify new formulations to improve the texture of plant-based meat products through in vitro processing. The research will drive critical innovation in Motif’s product pipeline of animal-free ingredients.

Texture represents one of the biggest sensory gaps between current plant-based meat and their animal-derived counterparts, and the most significant challenge facing brands hoping to win over consumers in today’s crowded market. The partnership with UQ will arm Motif with insights it can apply to its ingredient discovery process.

Motif's food science lead, Stefan Baier, will be leading the three-year initiative internally. He will lead a team of Motif food scientists in partnership with top academics in food oral processing and sensory evaluation at UQ: Jason Stokes, professor and director of research at the School of Chemical Engineering, and Heather Smyth, a senior research fellow with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation.

This partnership represents the first time in vitro oral processing will be applied in the category of meat analogs. Stokes has been pioneering the in vitro assessment of food oral processing for the last two decades, and together with Smyth, has developed critical new methods to assess the mouthfeel qualities of foods and link these back to sensory perception. Their expertise will supplement Motif’s work in formulating ingredients that improve specific aspects of plant-based meat analogs.

“Oral processing is an essential driver behind the consumer acceptance of food,” said Stokes. “By focusing on the physics, rather than the opinion of the chewer, we can get a more accurate and universal read of what makes food enjoyable to eat. Our work with the Motif team will enable them to translate that knowledge to produce better, more texturally similar meat analogs moving forward.”

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