Fibre-protein interactions for nutritional rich beverages

Projectnummer: LWV19026
Missie: Gewaardeerd, gezond en veilig voedsel
MMIP: D4: Duurzame en veilige verwerking
Looptijd: 2020 – 2023
Projectleider: Stacy Pyett 

A foreseen demand for protein which will outpace planetary resources by 2050, prompts the agro-food sector to urgently find alternative solutions for human diet. This project seeks to unravel the potential of protein-fibre interactions and bring its applicability in food applications to the next level through development of nutritional rich beverages. 
This will allow the food industry to: 

• Increase the use of alternative protein sources, i.e. plant-based, as compared to animal ones; 
• Achieve a more efficient use of protein-rich side streams, which favours the implementation of a total use approach for food production 
• Accelerate innovation in the field of plant-based nutritional beverages. 

Nutritional beverage products, such as dietary supplements targeted for different consumers groups, are currently based on animal-derived proteins (dairy). For considerations of reducing the ecological footprint as well as ensuring a more flexible use of proteins sources, the potential to gradually complement and replace dairy proteins by plant-derived ones in nutritional beverages needs to be addressed. 
Plant protein ingredients often carry along fibres, especially when processing is mild and sustainable. 
Dietary fibres from different plant origins are of interest as nutritional enrichment of nutritional beverages, given the many positive health benefits of fibre consumption and the consistently low intake of fibres in most Western countries. 
However, protein substitution and fibre enrichment in beverage formulations poses technological challenges because of their effect on product quality. Generally, interactions between proteins and fibres in aqueous media can lead to shelf life instability, e.g. unwanted structure formation or layer formation (syneresis). 

This is not preferred from a consumer and technological perspective. 
Hence, it is of key importance to understand and link protein–fibre interactions mechanisms to their effects on the physical, structural and mechanical properties of complex food systems such as nutritional beverages. Such knowledge would empower the food industry with more flexibility in the replacement of animal protein by sustainable plant proteins and simultaneously increasing nutritional and product quality.