BetterLEGUMEs: enabling local protein value chains

Legumes are the first nutritional and functional proteins to emerge as replacers for the current animal-derived proteins. However, the legume genotypes for local production, mild and low-energy processing require further improvements to reach scale. This project considers all steps of the further development of local legume crops for application in plant-based products, taking a source-specific approach to address specific bottlenecks. The team brings together value chain expertise, from breeding to consumer understanding.

Consumer-driven value chains

Legumes are sustainable protein crops with high potential in local (rotating) cropping systems. Cultivation of legumes for human nutrition can contribute to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Further, legumes fixate nitrogen, release nutrients into the soil, and support soil water retention. Large-scale cultivation unfortunately still lacks, due to challenges in yield, susceptibility to abiotic and biotic stress, presence of anti-nutritional factors, and the required protein fractionation method. Together, these challenges result in a less compelling business case for farmers and supply chain actors. Breeding and selection for these aspects require a multidisciplinary approach with state-of-the art breeding approaches, (high throughput) analytic analysis of nutritional and functional quality, and checks on food processing and consumer acceptance. This research pipeline can support the industry working to optimize local legume crops with the end application in mind, resulting in a consumer-driven, stable business case.

Transdisciplinary research approach

The project aims to support the development of breeding strategies for local production of legumes with low-energy processing and high value in food applications. The proposed activities are:

  • breeding, selection and analysis of germplasm
  • quality analytics of nutritional quality and antinutritional factors
  • processing strategies for flour, concentrate, and isolate to mitigate the effect of anti-nutritional factors and increased digestibility, functionalities and food application
  • consumer acceptance studies.

The project will result in analytical methods and approaches to support breeding & selection, processing & fractionation and food applications strategies with an enhanced quality for human consumption. Further, it will result in new breeding strategies and insight for legume crops, guidelines for ingredients and processing conditions for mitigation of anti-nutritional impact, insight in nutritional quality of the breeding material and derived fractions and the do’s and don’ts to increase consumer appreciation of legumes.

Invitation to connect

This consortium is open for participation from plant breeding companies, protein manufacturers, 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. Unfortunately we are not able to reply to solicitations from research institutes or enquiries from students related to this project. The consortium will run for 4 years with 4-6 industrial partners.