Plant-based food has a fat problem. We’re here to solve it.

By David Rowe, Founder, Epogee LLC

I was recently blown away by a challenge I heard at the Future Food Tech Summit in San Francisco. It was during a panel discussion about recreating the entire sensory experience of animal products in plant-based foods. The gist of it was that these foods don’t taste as good as they must in order to be successful across the broad population.

Here’s a direct quote from one startup founder.

“If you look at most animal products and the macros, it’s protein and fat. I don’t think anyone has really solved fat. If anyone has a better solution than coconut or palm, please come talk to me. I would love to hear about it.”

At the time, it was all I could do not to jump out of my seat and rush the stage. Needless to say, I remained calmly in my seat and approached the speaker afterwards in the midst of the crowd.

Still, weeks later, I just can’t stop thinking about what she said.

“It’s protein and fat.”

Why my excitement? Because my company, Epogee, has spent over 10 years developing our breakthrough EPG fat system, that allows Plant Based food innovators to delight customers and build strong brands. EPG helps solve the taste, texture and mouthfeel problems that ALL plant-based food companies are struggling with.

A little perspective. In the words of Julia Child,Fat equals flavor.

If you have not solved the fat problem, you have not solved the flavor problem! Fat will play the decisive role in the ultimate triumph of plant-based and alternative foods.

Why will fat be decisive?

Fat plays many key roles:

  • Fat coats the sensory receptors in the mouth and on the tongue and extends the contact time on these receptors to maximize perceptions of taste and aroma.
  • Fat is the carrier and delivery system of many critical flavors and aromas, as well as fat-soluble nutrients.
  • Fat acts as a critical compatibility and stability element, binding things together, helping incompatible ingredients to work effectively together, and serving as a barrier against dryness to extend shelf life.

Fat delivers the signature elements of juicy, rich, succulent, dense, lingering flavor of iconic animal fat. Without high performance fat solutions, flavors seem pale, and inauthentic along with the occasional intrusive background notes of fungi, legumes, etc.

The protein side of alternate meats has been able to piggyback in recent years on enormous advances in other areas of science and technology. Fat, by comparison, has been an orphan and/or an afterthought in the world of plant-based products, and in the larger world of nutrition and health. There are no spillover technologies from big pharma or global biotech leaders. The plant-based industry appears resigned to off-the-shelf solutions from palm and coconut oil that are loaded with unhealthy saturated fat and empty calories, along with concerns about the environment and sustainability. As consumer studies tell us, the results are less than satisfactory.

Those same studies report that while these protein-focused food companies may be impressing consumers with their declared values, they aren’t impressing them with taste or texture. Early success with vegetarians and vegans was a start, but now there is a gap between consumer expectations and the latest analogue meats coming off the line. And nobody is talking about it (except for that one brave executive at FFT). The industry remains silent because manufacturers don’t know how to solve the problem. They just haven’t cracked the code on fat.

The good news is that there is a solution. One that is tested, demonstrated in the market, and proven to deliver what plant-based meats are missing.

Made from plant-based oil and modified to resist digestive enzyme action, EPG provides all of the benefits of traditional fats, such as juiciness, savoriness and bite, while cutting 92% of calories and saturated fat for each unit of fat replaced. And it receives nothing but positive feedback. In fact, one big food executive proclaimed it as the holy grail of food technology!

Of course, the proof is in the eating experience. According to the results of a sensory study, done by a leading flavor company, the plant-based burger formulated with EPG outranked their state-of-the art control (made without EPG) across positive attributes such as first bite, cohesiveness of mass and moistness. And at trade shows, “Takes like a burger off the grill,” is just one of many raves we hear about our samples.

Regulatory-compliant and ready to scale, EPG is an essential building block for plant-based product development and product differentiation. Our customers are leap-frogging the competition across a multitude of categories both savory and sweet. How? By delivering what today’s market demands – delicious foods that are better for our bodies and the environment.

Imagine your plant-based brand flying off the shelves because it not only tastes like the real thing, it’s better for the planet and its people in terms of nutrition and caloric value. Talk about a win-win!

As you can tell, I get excited talking about EPG and its potential for positive change in the industry. Perhaps the next time someone at the dais brings up the lack of innovation with fats in plant-based foods, I will jump up and shout, “Come talk to us! We have the answer!”

As an alternative meat or dairy professional, you’ve likely invested a remarkable amount of time, money and effort into realizing your vision. If you’re ready to you take your product to the next level and achieve market success, shoot me an email and let's talk.