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Planterra: how JBT is supporting a major player in plant-based foods


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.


Realizing possibilities
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


Where it all started: the JBT 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.”

LEARN MORE about JBT and Plant-based foods

LEARN MORE about Planterra Foods

JBT Dry-Fry: making healthier comfort food without sacrificing taste

Fish and chips

Frying undoubtedly brings advantages for many products in terms of taste, crunch and eating experience, but with consumers taking an ever greater interest in the links between food, health and the environment, a demand for healthier fried food options has also grown. In response, many food processors are actively seeking ways of improving the health characteristics of new and existing food products without sacrificing the taste.

To support producers in this journey, JBT has developed the Dry-Fry System; a unique, innovative and healthier way of frying that keeps the great taste while shedding the unwanted side effects that come with deep frying.

Designed to process a wide range of healthier food options while maintaining a ‘just fried’ taste and appearance, the Dry-Fry uses up to 50% less oil to cook battered and breaded products, as well as meatballs, plant-based and vegetarian foods. Perhaps even more significantly, the Dry-Fry enables the use of a far wider range of frying ingredients, including healthier alternatives such as olive oil, which are not fitting for a deep frying process.


Complete line
The Dry-Fry brings together a complete line process that comprises the Stein Ultra V coating line, a fully controllable oil spray system, the Double D Revoband Continuous Protein Oven, an optional oven for fully cooking the product and the Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT Spiral Freezer or Chiller. The system works by eliminating the pre-frying stage while at the same time using controlled, significantly reduced amounts of oil, producing healthier, lower fat products that retain an optimum fried taste and texture.

“The Dry-Fry is a healthier alternative to deep frying, which not only uses less oil, but can also make use of ingredients such as olive oil and margarine that are not suitable for deep frying,” explains Bart Kivits, JBT’s Manager for Coating and Cooking Applications. “You also have the advantage of not having to change the oil every few days, so your overall running costs are lower.”

Olive oil with herbs

Healthier alternative
The system is part of a Healthier Cooking range of solutions from JBT, aimed at helping customers take advantage of growing consumer interest in healthier lifestyles and eating habits, including the burgeoning market for plant-based foods and meat alternatives. “Consumers are becoming more and more educated on food and are much more open to try new things and pay premium price if they believe it is good for them,” adds Kivits.

The range also includes the JBT Formcook Contact Cooker and JBT Formcook Combi Cooker, which make use of innovations from the continuous movement of products on teflon belts to cooking through forced air and steam heat transfer.

LEARN MORE about the JBT Dry-Fry solution

More than flavor of the month: trends shaping protein in 2021

From the unparalleled growth of the plant-based food industry to a move towards more prepared and pre-cooked products, the protein industry has seen tremendous changes over the past 12 months. As the industry prepares for the PROCESS EXPO 2021 in Chicago from November 2-5, JBT’s Director of Sales for JBT Protein North America, Steve Radke, gives a rundown of the key trends currently emerging.

With a background in applications engineering, Radke has a thorough understanding of many areas of the protein and prepared foods industry, which he has brought to his current role at JBT Protein North America.

What are the biggest trends you have seen in the protein industry over the last 12 months?

Steve Radke (SR): We’ve seen a tremendous demand for prepared and cooked foods. This is driving a need for frying and cooking systems, along with freezers, for fully-cooked meat and poultry products, along with appetizers and ethnic foods. The whole food distribution and supply system changed during 2020. When restaurants and food service closed down, grocery stores initially took all of the demand.

Now the restaurants have come back, there is a strong demand across both restaurants and grocery stores for fully-cooked, prepared foods. Also there is less labor involved in preparing foods at a lot of these restaurants because the food comes in already cooked or already semi-prepared and if you are looking at a chain restaurant, people want things that are cooked and prepared. So from a JBT standpoint, we are seeing a strong demand for fryers, ovens and freezers.

Plant-based foods have emerged as one of the biggest trends in the food processing industry

How significant has the alternative protein market become?

SR: Alternative protein has emerged as a major trend for capital equipment food manufacturers over the past 12 months, which is strong historically and it’s not going away. It’s a real market segment, not a fad. I would say we’ve had strong sales growth in 2021 in alternative proteins, which is significant because that didn’t exist a few years ago. We’ve always done vegetarian specialty products: people had black bean and soy patties and nuggets in the US and mushroom-based products in the UK. So it’s always been around, but now it’s gone mainstream and it’s strong and growing.

Much of the equipment that we’ve sold will really not come on-line until 2022, so we’re going to see even more of it and they are forging ahead with other proteins where we haven’t even gotten the point of commercialization. Alternative protein has been the biggest change we have seen over the last 12 months.

Have you seen a move by the industry as a whole towards becoming more sustainable?

SR: It has always been important because it’s something our customers look at in terms of utility usage – how much water do you use for CIP for example? I don’t think sustainability has really changed. Although for some people it is new, we’ve been marketing freezers, fryers and ovens for over 10 years and the message has always been around reduced inputs, it just wasn’t called sustainability, it was called operating costs: how much water are you using, how many chemicals are you using, how much electricity and gas are you using. So it was more of a cost of ownership discussion for the plant and the engineers. Now that same discussion is sometimes considered sustainability because we are reducing water use or electricity use, but believe it’s always been an important and a part of our equipment design for JBT.

The JBT Stein UltraV Breader Animation from JBT will showcase meat and non-meat applications at PROCESS EXPO 2021

Can you tell me what JBT has in store for PROCESS EXPO 2021?

SR: JBT will be bringing two innovative production solutions to PROCESS EXPO 2021. The JBT Stein Ultra V Batter Applicator and the JBT Stein Ultra V Breader Equipment, a single-pass system suitable for a wide-range of meat and non-meat products, including chicken nuggets, veggies, meat patties, breasts, wings, seafood, cheese, and plant-based products.

The Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT spiral freezer and chiller meanwhile is unequivocally the most accomplished freezer in the world of its size, which is specifically designed for plants with limited floor space. The system will simulate freezing meatballs at the show, with the emphasis on showcasing the GC40’s unparalleled hygiene, efficiency and compactness.

Fresh shoots of growth: why plant-based foods is the trend to watch for 2021

Plant-based protein alternatives is an industry that has grown in significance hugely over recent years, and will likely continue to do so. Here, JBT’s Sales Director Sergio Rabadán Velazquez explains what is driving the trend and why all players in the industry need to pay close attention.

Ask what have been the key trends of the last 12 months and the answer for most people – with good reason – will be an obvious one. But away from the pandemic, another important trend has been making an impact and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead: the demand for plant-based meat substitutes across a wide swathe of products. At JBT, we have working closely with the processing industry to develop tailored solutions to fit individual product needs.

Of course the subject of plant-based foods at JBT is not a new one. We have been working for a number of years on applications that substitute animal protein for vegetable protein. But what has happened in more recent times? There has been a huge change with a focus on a reduction in the production and consumption of meat because of its impact on the environment and a growing interest in proteins generated by plants. There is also a perception among many consumers that vegetable protein is better for a healthy diet than animal protein.

Plant-based foods that mimic meat taste, color and appearance are a fast-growing global market

How significant is this trend? Well according to a study carried out by Euromonitor International, global sales of meat and milk alternatives reached US$36 billion in 2019 and are continuing to grow. Sales of meat substitutes rose by 9% between 2019-2020 compared with 4% over 2018-2019.

As these figures indicate, one of the most important segments within plant-based foods has been the growth in products based on plant proteins that seek to imitate traditional, meat-based products. This has led to an enormous boom in hamburgers, sausages and bacon based on vegetable proteins.

To meet this demand, we at JBT have designed new processes for our customers who are formulating new products based on the raw materials. We help customers develop these products, adapting to each of the individual processes, the kind of product being developed, and the best means of processing it, at our Food Technology Centers, including at our facilities in Helsingborg, Sweden and Livingston, UK. We can assist customers in the development of the products, and following that we carry out practical testing in a factory setting.

JBT specialists work closely with plant-based foods processors to develop individually tailored solutions

Increased demand
JBT’s considerable experience in delivering solutions for the plant-based foods industry has proven invaluable given the huge increase in demand at a consumer-level, and the need for processors to develop products that effectively mimic the taste and appearance of meat-based foods, often at speed. 

An increased awareness of environmental concerns is fueling a desire on the part of many consumers worldwide to consume less meat. if you have a product that says it can effectively substitute meat in terms of taste, aroma, color to that which you have on your plate, and it comes not from animals, but from plants, people are willing to pay the same amount or more money for it. This has led to a demand especially for plant-based hamburgers, followed to a lesser extent by sausages and bacon substitutes. 

However, substituting a meat-based product for a plant-based alternative that offers the same eating experience is far from easy. Taking plant proteins and developing a protein that imitates the text, color, taste and aroma of meats is very difficult to achieve. We at JBT have designed and developed processes and systems – from cooking to freezing – which do just that, but which furthermore are tailored to meet the needs of each individual processor, while also complying with stringent hygiene standards required when handling plant-based products.

It seems likely plant-based meat substitutes are here to stay, and we at JBT will make sure customers produce foods that deliver and optimum experience, from taste to texture, time and time again.

Click HERE to request more information about JBT’s plant-based foods solutions

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