Planterra Foods is a plant-based protein company with grand ambitions and a key differentiator within the industry: its focus is on creating the best tasting, crave-worthy and quality products in the fast-growing, plant-based market. Planterra believes in promoting a flexitarian lifestyle and the incredible power of food that people everywhere can feel good about eating and sharing with their families, covering everything from burgers to taco fillings.
JBT has provided technologies and support to Planterra covering the company’s recent growth and developments, and is working closely to support exciting product launches for the months ahead.
Driven by changing consumer perceptions around meat substitutes and healthy eating concerns, the global plant-based meat substitute market – valued at an estimated US1.9 billion in 2021 – is forecast to be worth US$4 billion by 2027, according to Market and Markets Research. Lafayette, CO-headquartered Planterra and its OZO™ brand have emerged as a leading light in the category with their innovative, delicious, meat-substitute range of products.
Olugbenga “Olu” Diyaolu, Planterra’s Head of research & innovation, may have only joined Planterra in July 2020 after 20 years in the dairy and beverage industry, but he has been a key driver in pushing the company forward over the last 12 months. “My role when I joined Planterra was identifying ingredient and processing technology for three-five years down the pipeline, looking at how Planterra can be at the forefront of innovation and building a strategy around it,” Olu explains. “Coming into the meat-alternative world was new for me, but I understand processing and ingredients, so I started to figure out what we should be going into.”
Olu approached Tricia Harlan, a JBT Meat Scientist and Applications Engineer, to discuss how to add grill marks to Planterra burgers and other products, with JBT providing the solution in the form of the Double D Chargrill & Bar Marker.
“The initial conversation was around how we can add grill marks, but then we started to talk about what we were trying to achieve, and how I wanted the product to look like a typical plate where you have chicken breast, broccoli, and so on,” recalls Olu. “We wanted to take the chicken breast and replace it with plant-based protein that has the same profile, juiciness and texture as that product.”
“As I showed Planterra the possibilities of what we could get, it went from delivering this project in 2025 to delivering it by 2021: bringing it forward by four years based on the solutions we were being shown by JBT,” he reveals. “We started making different protein blends and brought them to JBT, and have carried out a trial every month since August 2020. From those trials, our sales teams have been able to offer new products to customers.”
Olu describes Planterra’s working relationship with JBT as being solutions-oriented, examining the problem and collaborating to solve that problem. “It felt like an extension of Planterra that was trying to make me successful, rather than ‘I have a shiny new piece of equipment, and it will do everything in the world’,” Olu laughs. “It was all about how we can help you achieve what you need, so you can be successful. The people at JBT and their availability has been beyond anything we could have expected.”
Olu says Planterra’s goal has been to provide the ultimate plant-based solution for consumers without sacrificing taste or quality. “When you go to a store, you have traditionally either been a meat lover or a vegetarian. We wanted to have a third option in the middle – for flexitarian consumers – that although non-meat, tastes as good as meat and matches it for nutrition and versatility,” he continues. “We wanted to compete in traditional meat segments such as burgers, taco meat and chicken patties. But then once we had established our baseline products, we started talking about where we wanted to go next.”