Texturized Protein & Meat Analogues

Advanced systems design for material handling, feeding and extrusion

A growing world population coupled with the search for alternatives to animal protein has led to an increased interest in plant-based ingredients and consumption of vegetable derived proteins. Texturized vegetable protein (TVP) – also known as textured soy protein or soy meat – and high moisture meat analogues (HMMA) produced by high moisture extrusion cooking (HMEC) are examples of these alternative protein sources. These alternatives are not only less expensive but also environmentally friendly. Other advantages of TVP and HMMA include longer shelf life and low fat content.

Coperion, Stuttgart, Germany, has had a long working relationship with the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) in Quakenbrueck, Germany. One focus of the cooperation is the research and further development of TVP extrusion technology and the HMEC of textured protein concentrate into a vegetable meat substitute.

The customized Coperion twin screw extrusion systems which include Coperion's high quality ZSK food extruders, Coperion K-Tron’s line of high accuracy loss in weight feeders, Coperion and Coperion K-Tron’s material handling equipment for ingredient delivery, and  very specialized cooling die technology, are designed to provide the highest quality TVP and HMMA products.

Typical ingredients are vegetable proteins like soy protein (defatted soy flour and concentrate), gluten, lupine and pea protein for texturized vegetable protein (TVP), high moisture meat analogues (HMMA), meat substitutes, meat extenders and soy meat.

Features and Benefits

  • Coperion and Coperion K-Tron’s high precision material handling, feeders and components can be provided to the highest hygienic standards for easy cleaning and maintenance.
  • Use of Coperion’s high efficiency ZSK food extruders ensure maximum throughput and best quality due to high screw speed.
  • Coperion’s long working relationship with the Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) in Quakenbrueck, Germany has resulted in the development of comprehensive process and product know-how of the requirements specific for processing this unique product.
  • The integrated systems provided by Coperion’s global systems engineering network ensure the most accurate and safe delivery of raw ingredients to the extruder, as well as the most efficient manufacture of the final extruded product.
  • Tailor made extruders due to Coperion’s versatile modular extruder concept, as well as custom made cooling/structuring die, provide unique and innovative process solutions for HMMA.

Application Example

Two very different product families of extruded meat analogues have established themselves in the meat analogue market. For the best results, the production of both types of meat analogues generally involves a co-rotating twin screw extruder, such as Coperion’s line of ZSK extruders. As the main raw materials in both cases are vegetable protein concentrate powders and water, the set-up for the material handling and feeding process is similar but differs in proportion.

The downloadable application sheet outlines both the TVP and HMEC processes, developed initially in a pilot plant and now implemented on a production capacity level. It also describes the feeding, material handling and extrusion technologies involved. In addition, further details are given with regard to an exceptional cooling die for high moisture extrusion and developed as a direct result of the collaboration between Coperion and the DIL (German Institute of Food).

Download the application sheet for more info:

Comprehensive Product Range

Food Extruders

Process Innovation for Meat Analogue Extrusion

Coperion’s versatile extrusion technology allows for the production of meat-like products with structure resulting in flavor and texture profiles similar to chicken, pork, beef, and even fish. Collaboration with organizations such as the DIL in Germany have led to the development of specialty dies and knowledge expansion on the extrusion process for products with moisture contents as high as 50-70%. Whether developing texturized vegetable protein, dry texturate, or HMMA, the experienced Coperion process engineers design the extruder perfect for your application.

Food Extruders
LIW powder feeder, LIW liquid feeder

Feeding Equipment

Liquid and Powder Ingredient Addition with Unsurpassed Accuracy

The Coperion K-Tron line of gravimetric dry powder and liquid feeders provide the perfect material feeding combination for meat analogue and texturized protein extrusion. Liquid loss-in-weight feeders offer significant advantages over traditional flow meters, for example higher accuracy and better control of feeding, as well as easier calibration. Highly reliable feeding and refill systems prevent feeding inaccuracies that could cause shutdown of the entire extrusion line which, in turn, adds to process time and calls for cleaning.

Volumetric and Gravimetric Feeders
Coperion K-Tron Bag Dump in hygienic design

Material Handling

Hygienic Easy Clean Designs

The material handling and feeder refill systems provided by Coperion and Coperion K-Tron can ensure the delivery of the ingredient from a variety of sources direct to the gravimetric feeder. Whether delivering and batching in a blender prior to the extrusion process, or direct to individual feeders above the extruder, the conveying and transfer systems offered are all designed with ease of cleaning, accessibility and quick product changeover in mind.

Coperion’s ZSK Mv PLUS twin screw extruder fulfills the highest hygiene and safety requirements

Plants & Systems

Innovative Designs for Quick Cleaning of Meat Analogue Extrusion Systems

The experienced systems engineers of Coperion and Coperion K-Tron have extensive background in hygienic designs for complete material handling and extrusion systems for texturized vegetable protein and high moisture meat analogues. Integrated systems complete with the latest technologies in PLC operation and recipe control are available.

Plants & Systems
Coperion service technician


Superior Global Service

Our global service personnel possess extensive material handling and process design knowledge for these special hygienic applications and are available 24/7 to assist you with your texturized protein and meat analogues process needs.

After Sales Service

Frequently Asked Questions

What are differences in extrusion techniques between dry texturized protein and high moisture meat analogues?

Extrusion of Meat Analogues

Co-rotating twin screw extruders are used for the production of both TVP and HMMA, although the set-ups for both products are totally different. The process section of Coperion’s highly efficient ZSK Mv PLUS twin screw extruder is designed as a modular system. It consists of several barrels in which the co-rotating screws operate. These screws also consist of different screw elements which can be combined individually. The advantage of this modular principle is the inherent maximum flexibility in the extrusion process.

It should be noted that Coperion’s ZSK Mv PLUS series has an outer to inner working screw diameter ratio (Do/Di) of 1.8, thus making it the highest free volume extruder available on the market. Its high free volume allows for a much higher capacity within a lower overall space and reduced energy profile. It is particularly beneficial when working with difficult-to-feed powders, such as proteins. The ZSK Mv PLUS series can be run with screw speeds up to 1,800 rpm which is also unique to the market and offers new perspectives e.g. for the extrusion of HMMA.

In addition, direct steam injection into the extruder is often applied to reduce the mechanical energy input and increase the thermal energy input by process volume. For direct steam injection, continuous temperature, pressure and flow velocity measurements of the hot steam are used to achieve high accuracy. An automatic valve regulates the flow and controls the feed rate.

Extrusion of Texturized Vegetable Protein TVP

TVP – also called dry texturate – is used as meat substitute or meat extender. It can be produced and used in different sizes and forms for different applications as smaller pellets or larger chunks, broken down or ground. TVP is a dry, porous (expanded) product with a long shelf life in normal ambient conditions. Before it can be used, it has to be soaked in water/ liquid.

Soy, legume and wheat protein as well as cotton seed and other proteins are used. It is important to note that protein functionality and concentration in the bulk material is important for good results. Quality parameters for TVP products include water uptake of the extrudate as well as fiber texture and length.

For TVP extrusion processes, the extruder is set up with a medium length process section and Coperion’s centric pelletizer ZGF. The bulk raw protein material is continuously fed into the main inlet of the extruder, and immediately after that, water is injected via Coperion K-Tron loss-in-weight liquid feeders. In some cases, direct steam injection to the process section is applied as well. Inside the extruder’s process section, the material is mixed, hydrated, then kneaded, plasticized, cooked and denatured under high energy input.

At the end of the extruder process section, the product exits through a special die head, inside which a certain alignment of the product is achieved to ensure a porous, foamy structure with orientated fibers. It is cut immediately by the rotating knives of the ZGF pelletizer. The TVP granules then need to be dried to be stable for long storage. TVP can be run at high production rates and large extruder sizes.

High Moisture Extrusion Cooking (HMEC) of Meat Analogues

HMEC aims for high-end meat analogue products used in ready-to-eat dishes. Different structures simulating different meat types (such as pork, poultry or beef) can be achieved by adjusting recipe and processing conditions. One of the most important advantages from both the consumer’s and manufacturer’s point of view are that HMMA products are amazingly similar in appearance and texture to genuine meat. In fact, in some cases, the differences can be indistinguishable!

For HMMA production, the water content is similar to lean meat, about 50 to 80% extrusion moisture. Consequently, the final products need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer and are as delicate as meat. The protein sources used for high HMMA are mainly legume proteins such as soy, lupine and pea. In some cases – such as when used for actual meat extenders – reduced amounts of genuine meat, fish, milk or wheat proteins are added to the recipe.

In the HMEC process, the process section of the extruder must be quite long and a special cooling die designed by DIL is attached directly to the extruder. Raw protein materials are fed into the inlet of the extruder and water is injected directly after that. Inside the process section of the twin screw extruder, the mass is mixed thoroughly, then the proteins are hydrated, kneaded, plasticized, and denatured under high mechanical energy input. The plasticized mass can achieve temperatures up to 180°C. The mass is pushed by the extruder into the cooling die where it is cooled down and forced into laminar flow. Here the transformation to solid phase takes place, building fibers by “freezing” the laminar flow profile into meat-like structures. The meat analogues usually exit the die as a rubbery strand or ribbon. This ribbon-like material is then conveyed to further processing steps.

For further information, as well as process flow diagrams for each, please see application sheet included above.



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Coperion K-Tron twin screw feeder feeding a food grade powder

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