In order to achieve a lower environmental footprint of the global food systems, Wageningen University & Research aims to help consumers move to more sustainable protein sources. This shift must be undertaken in a thoughtful, careful manner to ensure that the nutritional needs of fragile populations are met. This project targets the specific nutritional and dietary needs of elderly consumers, with the aim to help them adopt a more sustainable diet.
In most rich-world countries protein is generally overconsumed. The elderly represent a unique subpopulation in that most elderly consumers struggle to consume sufficient protein. Inadequate protein intake is closely linked to loss of muscle strength and functionality. Supplementation based on an increase of total food intake, or a single product type, is not feasible in the long term. In addition, most currently available high-protein foods are meat- or dairy-based, providing elderly consumers with an interest in plant-based foods with few options. Additionally, products based on sustainable proteins which are currently on the market are typically aimed at variety-seeking consumers while elderly consumers tend to prefer familiar products and brands.
Sustainable, but still traditional
In this consumer-driven project we will closely evaluate elderly wishes and requirements to determine which meals and products can be used to increase protein intake. Based on these outcomes, we will develop high-protein (hybrid) products specifically designed for elderly consumers. In these products, meat or dairy will be (partly) replaced with proteins from sustainable sources.
We will create optimal mixtures of alternative protein sources that can match or even improve essential amino acid composition and thereby improve nutritional quality. We will also develop a toolbox that can pre-calculate protein mix quality based on essential amino acid requirements and physical properties. This tool can be applied to predict and thereby develop new high-quality protein products in the future. Partners can provide materials for testing, and will gain pre-competitive insights to develop hybrids and plant-based products from new proteins, aligned with elderly needs.
In order to do so, we will develop a complete portfolio of high-protein products specifically designed for elderly consumers. The starting point will be the specific dietary habits of the elderly population, and develops along an incremental approach, maintaining food habits as much as possible. Ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers with an interest in innovations towards sustainable and healthy food products are invited to participate.
Want to join us?
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research invites protein suppliers, product manufacturers, food retailers, and bodies interested in elderly health to join this initiative and together generate new sustainable, healthy, high-protein foods for the growing elderly population.