the innovation behind benecel™ mx 100 


Alternative protein-based burgers, chicken, fish and other entrees offer health goal and environmental benefits.  Ashland solvers have worked to support this trend by creating ingredients to improve the texture and processing of alternative protein food options.

Alternative proteins include plant-based proteins such as pea or soy protein, plant proteins produced or enhanced through fermentation, insect proteins and meat proteins produced through culture or cellular agriculture.

One drive in inhibiting wider adoption is consumer acceptance of texture.  Meat-like texture is important in meat substitutes for flexitarians and those seeking to reduce meat in their diet. (source)

Ashland scientists have been working to support the vegetarian and alternative protein market with modified cellulose texturizers and has been part of this growing market for many years.  However, with more flexitarians and those seeking alternative protein sources with very meat- like texture, more work was needed.


Ashland makes cellulose derivatives that provide stabilization and rheology modification to a wide array of applications.  One such cellulosic is methylcellulose, also known as modified cellulose.  Methylcellulose is a versatile hydrocolloid used in food, personal care, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications.  One very unique property of methylcellulose is thermal gelation.  During heating, methylcellulose solutions in water will gel through hydrogen bonding and dehydration of the polymer as energy is applied. This makes methylcellulose a unique food ingredient that is ideal for providing a meat-like texture to alternative protein products.  

Ashland solvers, including food scientists, polymer chemists, rheologists and engineers worked together to create the next generation of methylcellulose texturants with the Benecel™ MX product line. By focusing on the processing parameters impacting molecular weight, rheology and gel firmness, solvers developed the latest addition to the Benecel™ MX product line, Benecel™ MX 100 methylcellulose.  To test the performance of Benecel™ MX 100 methylcellulose, polymer solutions were tested on a rheometer, first heating then cooling, also called a temperature sweep.  This heating ramp and cooling mimics happens when alternative protein foods are cooked.  As can be seen in the temperature sweep in Graph 1, Benecel™ MX 100 methylcellulose not only reaches the highest firmness as represented by storage modulus or G’, but also remains firm during cooling.  Benecel™ MX 100 methylcellulose provides superior firmness to alternative meat products during cooking and, importantly, as the product cools to eating temperature (see Graph 2), creating an eating experience similar to that of meat.

Graph 1: Temperature sweep comparing Benecel modified cellulose grades A4M, MX and MX 100

mx100 graph1 final.jpg

Graph 2: gel firmness at eating temperature, 40 C

mx100 graph2 final.jpg