Clean label solutions for structuring plant-based foods
To make a meaningful shift in the ratio of plant-based proteins possible, it is essential to improve the appeal of these products. A major limiting factor in doing so is the overall lower functional quality of the current generation of plant-based protein ingredients. This project brings together committed supply chain partners to increase the functional properties of plant proteins, and consequently reduce the number of additives used in plant-based foods.
Overall deliverables of the projects are
- Fundamental insights base on physical- and phase behaviour of relevant plant-based ingredients, and on the relation of this behaviour to structure formation during processing.
- Translation of this knowledge base to industrially-relevant protein ingredient processing strategies which maximize protein functional potential. This will allow for a fast knowledge transfer from university to company.
- Develop fundamental knowledge base on protein-protein interactions in mixtures of plant-based protein ingredients, with a particular focus on processing solutions to create synergistic interactions.
- Develop fundamental knowledge base on synergistic interactions between proteins and other components in plant-based ingredients (fibres, phenolics) with a particular focus on processing solutions that create interactions contributing to structuring.
- Translation of the above knowledge to product and process solutions making optimal use of mixtures of plant proteins for functional properties, including for example gelation and binding.
- Pilot scale proof-of-principle of a set of clean label (model) plant-based foods, and related design rules for implementation across the supply chain
Clean label solutions for structuring plant-based foods consists of equipment manufacturer (SPXflow), plant-derived ingredient suppliers (Cosun, Fuji Oil), enzyme suppliers (Amano Enzyme), flavour producer Mane, and producers of plant-based foods (Arla Foods Amba, Company E.V.A. (Simply V), CJCJ, LiveKindly, Starfield and Upfield).
This project is closely related to MMIP A4 “protein supply for human consumption” which aims to increase consumption
of plant-based proteins in the human diet by developing sustainable, healthy and consumer-accepted plant-based products. The focus of the project is on priority 9 of the MMIP A4: “the supply chain from crop to product for enhancing protein quality related to biomass properties, processing and product quality”. The project develops an understanding of
primary protein processes to enable creation of stable plant protein dispersions and ‘true’ plant protein gels, and on the synergy between different plant protein sources and naturally present ingredients in plant (e.g. fibre and polyphenols) to enhance the gelling and binding properties of plant proteins. These newly generated insights will be applied broadly across the plant-based category to beverages, dairy alternatives, and meat alternatives, enabling application of a broader range of plant proteins and the creation of plant-based food ‘free’ of additives. By incorporating both fundamental knowledge development as well as application work through to pilot production and sensory evaluation, this project can deliver market-ready solutions with economic impact. Both widely-adopted protein sources (soybean, pulses,…) and newer sources (oilseed side-streams, mycoproteins) of proteins will be investigated for their potential in structuring plant-based foods, especially in combination other proteins.
In April 2021, Clean label solutions for structuring plant-based foods started with 11 industrial partners, Wageningen Food and Biobased Research and Wageningen University (Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter and Food Process Engineering).
The project is divided into 4 work packages (WPs). The focus of each WP is shown below. Knowledge transfer is addressed in WP 4 focussing on communication and dissemination.
- WP1. Application solutions for better structure and texture. WP1 aims at delivering short-term solutions in the area of plant-based food (limited to the range of model systems defined), at characterizing the functionalities of to-be-replaced ingredients to feedback information to WP 2 and W3 and at translating the knowledge generated from the science-driven WP to the model systems.
- WP2. Stable dispersions and true protein gels. WP2 aims at exploiting the distinct phase behaviour and physical properties of plant proteins from different sources (in particular liquid-liquid phase separation) to develop new knowledge-based processing routes that maximize protein functional potential.
- WP3. Synergy for better structure and texture. This work package aims at exploring two different aspects, A) Synergies between plant proteins from different sources, as well as B) Synergies between plant proteins and other components inherent to plant material.
Planning is done on two levels:
- An overall planning, as described in the project plan, with deliverables for the entire duration of the project.
- A detailed planning for each WP, discussed in the consortium.
In 2022, the activities in Clean label solutions for structuring plant-based foods will be continued according to the overall planning described in the project plan and the detailed planning discussed with the partners for the different WPs. Special focus will be on:
- Scientific publications: multiple publications are foreseen, and presentations will be given at scientific conferences
- Interaction between WPs: in addition to the activities belonging to individual WP, many interactions are foreseen between the WPs, e.g. by transferring fundamental results to the more applied WPs, and by using insights from one WP in another WP.