Robin Houwen did both her bachelor and master in Food Technology at Wageningen University. During her master she tried as often as possible to combine the technical and consumer sides of foodstuffs and product development.
“My thesis was about making gels from oil. Saturated fat in products ensures structure because it forms fat crystals. However, saturated fat is unhealthy, so you want to substitute it with unsaturated fat. The only thing is unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature, and therefore does not provide any structure to a product. Therefore, I tried to make a sort of gel from unsaturated fat that could serve as a replacement structure at room temperature. I was therefore not working on a product, but I was able to go a step further in fundamental research.”
Robin wanted to do her internship at a large company abroad. She was successful in this. “I did my internship at Mondelez International in Munich. It is a company that makes a lot of snack products such as Milka, Oreo and Philadelphia. I worked on a project with whey protein concentrate there. From milk you can make whey, and from that you can make a concentrate. It can be used for various purposes; it is often used as a source of protein in products. I mainly looked into how the viscosity (syrupiness) depends on, for example, the pH and temperature of a process. I joined the day-to-day life in the company, which I found a lot better than doing research! I’m not a fan of going really deep into something and finding out why something doesn’t work. I would rather spend time on finding out how things do work, and that is the focus of companies.”
Robin currently works at Nutricia as a product technologist of medical foods. Do you want to know more? Click here.