Sustainable Plant Fractionation

Sustainable Plant Fractionation






Landbouw, Water, Voedsel>D. Gewaardeerd, gezond en veilig voedsel>D4. Duurzame en veilige verwerking






Our food supply will transition towards a more comprehensive use of food crops. Current ways of extracting plant-based ingredients from crops are quite intensive in their use of energy and chemicals, do not have very high yields, and negatively impact the quality that was originally present in the plant tissues. Gentle processing offers solutions to this, and by using dry or gentle hybrid dry-wet separations, it is possible to have higher yields and simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 90% over the whole chain. At the same time, the fractions created still contain much more fibre and micronutrients, which may enable us to produce foods that fit better in a healthy diet. The plant-based ingredients obtained by gentle processing may show improved technical as well as nutritional functionality, which will enlarge their field of application. This potential however depends on solving a number of issues. (1) Mild fractionation techniques generally involve no or no significant heating. Therefore, food safety is not automatically ensured. (2) Antinutritional factors such as phytic acid, lectins, alkaloids but also persistent oligosaccharides may compromise health. This needs to be assessed, and routes to mitigation have to be set up. (3) While we expect that mildly refined ingredients will enhance our digestive health, this has yet to be shown. (4) Mildly refined ingredients have different properties, and therefore their techno-functionality and product development have to be explored. While mild and dry processing is not new, this project is the first that takes a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach, by combining the expertise of eight different disciplines. Together with four industrial partners, eight academic groups, a contract research organisation and a university for applied sciences, we will investigate the fractionation and conversion of the ingredients, the techno-functionality of the ingredients in complete foods, and the toxicological and nutritional aspects and benefits of these new types of ingredients.

Doel van het project

The project fits squarely in Mission D: Appreciated, healthy and safe food; MMIP D4. “Sustainable and safe processing”. Over the past years it has become clear that a (partial) transition from animal- to plant-based proteins will be of utmost importance to sustain global food supply for the fast-growing world population. The objective of the MMIP’s is to change the ratio of animal / vegetable proteins in the human diet towards 40/60 by 2030 through the development and improvement of vegetable and new protein sources and developing sustainable, healthy and consumer-accepted vegetable products. The increased use of plant proteins comes, however, with several challenges: (i) When processing raw materials to protein ingredients, the extent of refining (or protein purity), suitability for application and costs need to be carefully balanced. (ii) Upon retrieving protein from plant materials, the proteins are exposed to oxidation reactions leading to quality defects (off-flavor, off-color, potential loss of techno-functionality), which should be mitigated. (iii) Upon isolating proteins from plant materials, novel anti-nutritional factors (or potentially toxic compounds) might be co-extracted, which requires a careful risk assessment. (iv) The digestion of plant proteins is known in much less detail than that of animal-derived ones.

Relatie met missie (Motivatie)

Tackling the challenges described under 2.2 will contribute to the acceleration of the protein transition and to a more sustainable food supply with potentially superior protein ingredients. A major part of the results obtained is generic and thus also applicable to plant protein sources other than those used in this project.

Geplande acties

= Yearly TKI reports.
= Scientific publications on most topics outlined in the deliverables table above are expected in due time, but as the project has only recently been fully staffed no papers have been published yet.
= Communication in the form of presentation during kick-off and expert meetings.

Meetings and planning:
= Kick-off meeting – May 18, 2021.
= Workstream meetings are organized regularly by the members from each workstream, on demand.
= Expert meetings – 3 times per year (December 6, 2021; April 4, 2022; September 5, 2022; January 9, 2023).
= Steering committee meetings – 1 time per year (June 13, 2022).

Naam projectleider

Remko Boom