Sustainable functional ingredients

In addition to expecting food products to consist of natural ingredients (the clean-label concept), consumers also require them to be sustainably produced and of a high quality. Functional ingredients such as flavourings and colorants must also be natural, which is not always an option as they are usually produced via chemical processes. Wageningen experts can produce functional ingredients from residual streams, ensuring that they are both natural and meet sustainability and quality requirements.

Sustainable use of sources

Most food-processing systems focus on the extraction of a single target component. This results in a large amount of residual biomass streams containing valuable ingredients that are not currently used. Wageningen scientists apply new technologies to limit water and energy consumption during the processing of those residual streams and make the best possible use of the functionalities of the residual biomass. We use bio-refining, physical modification and fermentation technologies to obtain added-value components from the residual streams.

Reverse engineering

Biomolecules are usually isolated on the basis of a narrow ingredient specification. Our scientists take the desired functionality in the end product as a starting point instead, then design a reverse engineering process to attain it with natural ingredients. Fast and effective measurement is vital for assessing the relevant functionality. We have a wide range of screening tools, as well as the equipment required to carry out tests on a relevant scale. This combination of technologies and resources enables us to develop the desired clean-label ingredients and design a process which makes the best possible use of available raw materials.


CULTURED is a public-private partnership that consists of a consortium of nine industrial partners hailing from the entire food-production chain. It deploys fermentation strategies to develop innovative solutions for food products and uses food-grade microorganisms to produce sustainable clean-label ingredients, food products and tools. High-throughput screening methods promote the application of fermentation technologies in modern food production. The results produced by this PPP enable the food industry to develop minimally processed and healthy functional food ingredients and products.

Clean label starch

Chemically modified starch is an effective thickener. As the available clean-label variant does not achieve the desired results, Wageningen experts have developed and patented a clean-label starch based on alkaline roasting. The effects of this product are comparable to those of modified starch.

Does this approach appeal to you?

Get in touch to discuss the options. We would be happy to discuss the most suitable method for developing natural functional ingredients for use in your food products.