New protein ingredients

Alternative protein sources are needed to meet the rapidly growing global demand for protein. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research addresses this issue by developing new technologies for protein isolation and application in food products.

The rapidly growing world population and increasing wealth in many parts of the world have caused an explosive rise in the global demand for protein. Food & Biobased Research is developing mild technologies for the production of new protein ingredients from sustainable sources to meet the demand of many companies for sustainable protein ingredients that are functional, have a full nutritional profile and are economically viable.

Protein isolation

Research into proteins from new sources is one of the strategic spearheads of Wageningen UR. We use raw materials such as legumes and oilseeds as well as new sustainable sources such as insects and algae, and waste flows from the food product and biofuels industry. Based on biorefinery, Food & Biobased Research is developing technologies for purifying protein-rich fractions from sustainable sources. We then convert these fractions into fully fledged ingredients for processing in food products, where the emphasis is on preserving the physical and biological functionality (nutritional value) of the protein. We do this by unlocking the components as mildly as possible and isolating them with wet or dry techniques. The new protein ingredients are widely applicable due to their emulsifying, gelling and foaming characteristics.

Texture and nutritional value

Food & Biobased Research has extensive knowledge and experience in the functionality of ingredients. This enables us to specifically develop products based on new protein ingredients. The texture of products is an important aspect in this process. For example, we are working on the development of a new generation of meat substitutes with a fibre-like structure that emulates the texture of meat as closely as possible.

For food companies, especially those that make food for specific target groups such as infants, elderly or athletes, it is important that protein has and retains a high level of quality. Replacing animal protein by vegetable protein can change the nutritional value of a product. In addition, the protein degradation in the process may be different. We develop digestion models (in-vitro and in-vivo) that determine the nutritional quality of proteins in products. These models are specifically directed at a target group, for example infants. This gives us insight into the quality of animal and vegetable protein in food products and makes it possible to produce an optimal end product by means of recipe and technology.