Ojah to debut ‘World's first’ Vegan Ribs made from peas

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ojah's first vegan ribs. Photo: Anoeska van Slegtenhorst.
Ojah's first vegan ribs. Photo: Anoeska van Slegtenhorst.

Related tags: plant-based, Meat, vegan, peas

Plant-based ingredients producer Ojah is debuting what it claims to be the ‘World’s first’ vegan ribs made from a newly developed texture, called Heppi.

The company, know for its chicken-alternative Plenti will launch the pea-based vegan ribs at the Food Ingredients Europe trade show in Paris next month.

HME ingredients

Joeri Hollink, head of product development, Ojah, told GobalMeatNews the company had been working on its High Moisture Extruded (HME) ingredients portfolio over the past six years,  developing the texture, based on a different protein source than soya, but with the same WOW-effect as Plenti.

Heppi is a yellow pea-based HME texture that delivers the same bite, mouthfeel and juiciness of meat. 

It is 100% plant-based and full of proteins for consumers who want to reduce their meat intake but want a meat-like experience. 

"The R&D process started six years ago with explorative tests. Our approach has always been to develop textures that deliver a bite, mouthfeel and juiciness. We were looking for a specific chew that is satisfying but does not take too long before you can swallow," added Hollink.

"As our main product Plenti (soya based), has a longer fibered, white meat resemblance. We were aiming for a shorter fibered texture similar to stew-meat. Once our formulation was developed, we trialled several concepts, but this texture reminded us a lot of slow cooked BBQ ribs. Therefore we rolled out the concept in this direction.

"We felt that the current limited available vegan ribs in the market was quite poor in quality and would not convince the hardcore meat lover. Our plant-based ribs deliver that wow-effect, where we hope this would convince anyone, to pursue a flexitarian lifestyle. The development has been established within the small, but powerful R&D team of Ojah using its HME process."

The ribs come as a 'rack' of 10, making them ideal for grilling on a BBQ or for warming-up in the oven. As the ribs are boneless, they can be served on a bun to create a vegan rib burger. 

To manage demand, Ojah plans to introduce the ribs in Dutch foodservice outlets first. In the second half of 2020, Ojah plans to expand production capacity and make Heppi available to preferred food manufacturing partners. 

25% protein content

The Heppi protein texture, is a HME texture made from yellow peas and water. With a minimal ingredient list and a protein content of 25%.

Clarifying the fact Ojah claims the ribs are a 'World First', Hollink added: "We know there are tempeh-based and seitan-based (gluten) “ribs” in the market, but these concepts do not resemble the actual product and texture of ribs.

"They are shaped in a similar way and marinated as such, that is all. For a vegan or vegetarian, this is probably fine and they would still enjoy such a product. Likely even more than ribs that come real close to the real thing.

"However, for the meat lover or flexitarian, these ribs do not deliver. As this is still the biggest consumer group, the biggest impact in the protein transition can be made here. Therefore we say it is “the world’s first’, that actually resembles ribs which are convincing enough for meat eaters."

Ojah was founded as a start-up in 2009 and ran its first commercial production in 2010. As a business-to-business company, it develops and produces plant-based textures for the food industry. 

Ojah's original HME ingredient, Plenti, was one of the first of such ingredients on the market as 'plant-based chicken chunks' available worldwide. 

In 2012, Ojah was awarded the title “Most innovative SME of The Netherlands” by the Dutch ministry of economic affairs. Ojah uses only European soy for its Plentiproduct range. Ojah’s production site is located in Ochten, The Netherlands.

Fi Europe 2019 takes place from December 3-5 December at Paris-Nord Villepinte.

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