Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is searching for partners to join our ALL-INFORMED consortium project. It’s a Public-Private-Partnership which helps the food industry to optimise plant-based protein ingredients and products by application of fermentation technology. The use of plant-based proteins shows high promise yet does not result in full consumer satisfaction with respect to the flavour profile. Fermentation technology can be used to overcome this challenge. Unfortunately, finding the best fermentation strategy is difficult, time consuming and therefore an expensive exercise. The aim of this project is to de-risk the application of fermentation technology by use of Artificial Intelligence in combination with state-of-the-art non-invasive sensory analysis.
The market for plant-based proteins has expanded rapidly. For future success, several challenges for plant-based proteins have to be solved. The current products in the market are attracting growing criticism over their long ingredient list, off-flavour and nutritional content. However, meeting these consumer demands is challenging and clear-cut solutions have not been developed.
ALL-INFORMED aims to allow efficient valorisation of plant protein or protein rich streams by fermentation or other simple processing technologies to produce clean label food ingredients with high quality flavour functionalities. In order to improve the functionality of these non-traditional ingredients by fermentation, the selection of an optimal substrate – strain combination and fermentation conditions, remains a challenging prerequisite. Such combinations can hardly be covered by trial-and-error strategies due to the large number of combinations that would need to be tested.
What are we going to do?
In this initiative fermentation technology will be used to convert plant protein sources that may be derived from primary food production, or from side-streams in the food processing industry into high-value foods and food ingredients.
A large number of substrate:micro-organism combinations will be used in a fermentation setup. The fermentation will be followed by non-invasive sensors (near infrared spectroscopy) which will result in information the macronutrient composition of the substrate and the fermentation induced changes of the substrate in time. Practically this means that for a given substrate or species more tests will be performed using our previously developed high throughput platform that currently allows performing 1000’s of fermentations per month.
Additionally, determination of the production of flavour molecules during the process will be used to acquire detailed information on the process. This practically means that 100’s of flavour molecules will be studied in 1000’s of fermentations.. The total information data-sets will be fed into a database which will subsequently be used to develop an artificial intelligence tool (machine learning and expert modelling) that supports decision making. This AI tool can at the end of the project be used to quickly develop new fermented products with unique functionalities from a wide-range of protein rich streams.
This consortium is open for participation from (plant)protein manufacturers, culture suppliers, ingredient companies, and consumer goods manufacturers. In return for in-cash and in-kind contributions to the project, partners can contribute materials for research and provide direction to the research activities. The consortium will run for 3 years with 6-10 industrial partners.