Plant-Based Product Development Opened Up With Fava Bean Innovation

Verso Food, based in Finland, is the market-leading plant-based brand in its domestic market where it sells Beanit chunks and mince. The company entered the UK market at the beginning of this year and has a presence in Poland, Japan and Sweden, with further international expansion planned.

The brand has secured a patent covering its fava bean processing technology for plan-based foods and meat analogues. The Beanit brand is all about the fava bean, a food that has great potential due to its sustainability, taste and nutritional values.

Verso Food sources its fava beans locally from the region surrounding its production facility in Kauhava, Finland. It’s very difficult to find the right texture in fava bean products, however, and the company has found that processing fava beans into meat analogues have proven challenging.

The company has recently been granted a patent for its key innovation, extracting fava bean protein through a process based on wet extrusion. This has allowed them to develop a fava-based product with a fibrous structure close to cooked meat and chicken.

Water is added to a mixture of dehulled fava bean flour and vegetable protein, the hydrated mixture is then kneaded and heated in an extruder to form meat analogue products.

Considering the limited number of protein-rich crops to choose from to make plant-based products, the development is significant for the category. Verso’s method of processing fava beans opens a new avenue away from the popular options of soy, pea, wheat, and oat.

“There is much more to discover. We find ourselves at the beginning of the path when applying wet extrusion with fava bean,” said Verso chief executive, Tomi Järvenpää.

“Already at this point, we have succeeded in developing products loved by a wide audience, and we are thrilled to imagine where this will lead us.”

For the company’s international expansion, securing the patent has been an important milestone. Järvenpää added that the brand wants to develop business-to-business sales, supplying its fava bean meat analogue as an ingredient.

“The plant-based food markets are still young both globally and in Finland, but we do see an exceptionally high know-how and progression in our market,” Järvenpää concluded.

“I believe Finland as a country could have the position to stand out as a frontrunner in the arena, it’s something we really can be proud of.”