While the development of alternative food ingredients is a complex process, it can be simplified. With this in mind Wageningen University & Research will start a public-private partnership to develop a first-generation NPD decision-support system. Accelerating development processes in this context will enable us to improve the nutritional composition and health impact of various products. Ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers are more than welcome to join the initiative.
Consumers are increasingly asking for healthier foods with recognisable ingredients, and the food industry is starting to embrace the challenge. One of the proposed solutions is to increase the use of plant-based ingredients and ensure better quality for processed food staples. At the same time, it is important to ensure the science-based improvement of nutritional quality.
Simple and attractive
In this project we will identify the requirements for ingredients, making it easier for suppliers to develop healthy new plant-based (fruit, vegetables, legumes) ingredients which fulfil those needs. This will be achieved by combining technological, nutritional and health information with state-of-the-art IT expertise, enabling us to present complex information in a simple, attractive and accessible way.
The consortium initiative is built around four main research lines:
1. Ingredient functionality
We will start with the characterisation of key ingredient functionalities and food-structuring processes for the purpose of improving the quality of end products. This will be based on systematic modelling approaches that will result in general design rules for food formulation.
2. Nutritional composition
Secondly, we will create a nutritional composition database which will allow us to set nutritional targets (like daily recommended doses of nutrients and threshold limits to examine content claims like 'high in') and to facilitate the selection of starting ingredients.
3. Screening Health markers
We will use in-vitro screening tools to establish the effects of food composition on health markers and set up a food matrix. This will include digestibility, bioavailability and bioactivity as related to a broad set of activities, the priority of which will be determined by the industrial partners. This will lead to products based on educated guesses and mechanistic support regarding potential health effects, which can subsequently be validated by in-vivo trials in follow-up studies.
4. WUR's decision support system
This system will integrate technological, nutritional and health information and explore predictive relations. It will support companies in formulating choices based on technological, nutritional and health requirements.
Interested? Your invite is here...
Ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers with an interest in innovations that promote healthy food products are invited to join this project. The focus is on food sectors such as bakery & cereal products, confectionary and dairy products.
The project will provide:
- An innovative and efficient approach to the design of healthy food products
- Novel application opportunities for existing ingredients
- Ingredient development opportunities
- Methods to make products with higher nutritional values which can more easily make marketable claims ('source', 'high in')
- Demonstrations (in vitro) of the physiological effects of reformulated products
- Integration of technological, nutritional and health topics in a first-generation decision-support system (DSS)
- Exploration of (existing but invisible) relations, enabling the NPD of healthy food concepts using DSS
Industrial partners will be asked for contributions both in cash and in kind. The latter can take the form of ingredients, internal support during product development, equipment and/or hours spent on the project.