Call for partners: Fermented Plant Proteins as meat alternatives


Call for partners: Fermented Plant Proteins as meat alternatives

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research invites industrial partners to join a consortium project on the development of new, sustainable plant-based proteins and meat-like flavours by fermentation

In the past decades, the world population has grown exponentially and consequently the demand for protein for human nutrition has increased. Meat is an important protein source in the human diet but availability and its environmental impact drives the search for plant-based alternatives.

Fermentation provides an excellent technique to meet the consumers demand for nutritional, healthy and attractive protein products that are sustainably produced. Fermentation can contribute to the nutritional value, digestibility, texture, and production of meat-like flavours of plant-based products. Moreover, fermentation allows in situ production of vitamins and/or added nutritional values as for example vitamin B12.

Tempeh, a traditional fermented soybean product originating from Indonesia, is the best-known example of a plant-based meat substitute. Replacing soybeans with other plant protein sources provides new sustainable alternatives to meat, possibly with better functionalities.  

The project will be a close multi-disciplinary collaboration with Wageningen Research and Wageningen University, involving both applied research- and academic partners.

Innovative plant based protein fermentations

This project aims at the development new plant-based protein rich meat-replacers by the use of fermentation with special focus on the in situ production of meat associated vitamins and meat-like flavours and new possible sources of protein rich plants.

The experimental work will focus on 4 research challenges that link to expertise on (co)fermentation processes, product development and preservation processes present at Wageningen Research and Wageningen University.

1. Development of new high protein plant-based substrates

An innovative tempeh fermentation process has been developed at the Laboratory of Food Microbiology group at Wageningen University leading to controlled, in-situ vitamin B12 production by propionibacteria in co-culture with Rhizopus spp using lupin as the protein source. New fermented products will be developed using other plant-protein sources (for example chick pea, lentils, mung beans), grains or combinations thereof.

2. Development of novel fermentation processes with altered functionality

New reliable and reproducible production processes for lupine-based tempeh fortified with nutrients will be developed. This requires development of new co-cultures that are domesticated to new food fermentation processes.

3. Meat-like flavour production by fermentation

Fermentation will be exploited to produce natural precursors of meat flavours by using different metabolic pathways present in a variety food grade fermentation associated microbes (yeast, moulds and bacteria).  Here we also consider the potential to use protein-rich side streams of agro streams..

4. Safety and shelf life

Safety and shelf life of the resulting plant-based meat alternatives will be tested and new preservation strategies will be developed. Approaches may include mild processing techniques such as high hydrostatic processing or alternative, milder heating regimes.

The project will be a close multi-disciplinary collaboration within Wageningen University & Research, involving both applied research- and academic groups. We aim to build a balanced consortium consisting of both SME and larger companies. At this point several industrial partners joined the consortium including ingredient/flavour suppliers and producers of meat replacers. We explicitly invite partners from different area’s including producers of meat alternatives, legume suppliers and food producers - interested to use the fermented ingredients in het their products or in valorisation of their plant-based side streams - to participate in the project. We expect industrial partners to pay a cash contribution per year.