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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Updated on Nov 22nd, 2022
Fact checked by Emma Vince

Improved Nature 2023: Plant-based Food With a Meaty Texture

Dr. Rody Hawkins, CEO and President of Improved Nature, reveals more about these plant-based, all-natural, nutritious, and non-GMO products that both taste and resemble meat, and could potentially revolutionize the world of Flexitarianism. Improved Nature was launched in 2017.

What motivated the creation of Improved Nature and when did it all begin?

It all started at a Conference I held at The University of Wisconsin during the Obama Administration, which dealt with how to feed 10 billion people by 2050 with a sufficient amount of protein. Being a meat scientist, I was able to look at the meat industry and realize that this was simply an impossible feat but knew that it would be manageable using an efficient source of plant protein.

This protein, however, would need to taste good and reach people in a way that would provide them with a seamless replacement for meat. This is how Improved Nature originated. Three of the original founders were involved in the plant protein industry but their mission focused around reaching the texture of meat. Texture was and is the keyword.

Why soy over any other plant protein?

We’re currently concentrated on soy protein but our technology is applicable to all sorts of plant protein. Even if we were to make use of another plant protein in our facility, the product would still contain a certain amount of soy in the finished product. We’re currently looking to build another facility to isolate our plant proteins in the future.

Why soy? There are four complete proteins (all the essential amino acids needed for healthy muscles and tissue) – meat, dairy, egg, and soy protein. Soy protein has all the essential amino acids in the same proportion as meat and has a higher digestibility level than meat on a pound-to-pound basis. Other plant proteins are either lacking in amino acids or in terms of protein is of a lower nutritional value.

What goes into your products in terms of ingredients and technology?

The technology involves taking concentrated plant protein and using heat, pressure, and steam to create fibers. Muscle tissue is fiber and this is what gives us texture. We’re replicating these very fibers with plant protein and then go on to form different subunits.

Our technology enables the making of long elongated fibers, and we’re able to make a finished product as big as a chicken breast or piece of filet. I don’t know any other technology on the market that’s capable of doing this. Our technology is the secret to Improved Nature.

How do Improved Nature products compare to other plant-based alternatives in terms of taste, price, sustainability, and nutritional content?

We have the texture down! We only use the protein itself and water, there are no added ingredients. The flavor however isn’t there as protein is typically lacking in this department. We add the flavors (such as salt) and this actually gives us the capacity to control the nutritional profile we’re looking for. Our advantage is simple ingredients and great texture.

Tell us about Improved Nature’s new meal kit offering?

Our products can be made into all shapes and sizes and are incredibly shelf-stable. They have a shelf life of four years. This allows us to ship anywhere in the world. Our long-term mission is to feed the world with a quality protein, great in nutritional value, taste, and texture.

Because our product is incredibly versatile, selling meal kits is a perfect place for our products to be tested and tried by the customer.

We provide 4oz. packages offering a variety of four different plant-based protein shapes made from our Nature’s Prime products. They’ve been specifically designed for meal kit subscription companies to offer to customers as a healthy plant-based meat alternative in recipes.

How do you see the future of flexitarianism and how will the role of Improved Nature evolve within?

I’m a meat man at heart, but I’ll eat our product at any meal because it’s such a seamless transition from meat into plant-based products. People are often concerned about nutrition and consuming too much meat.

Our option gives people the protein that they need and desire without some of the other issues linked to meat. It’s a growing trend and the majority of customers out there are flexitarians. This is the market we’re targeting.

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