PROVE: tapping into new sustainable sources of proteins to secure the future of food
2 Feb 2019
With the world’s growing population, there’s a rapidly rising demand for food. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) estimates that food production needs to increase with 60-70% to feed around 9.2 billion people by 2050. This demand for food cannot be covered by increased production of existing sources. To achieve future food security (= producing sufficient nutritious food accessible to everyone) and doing so sustainably, we will need to tap into new sources and valorise existing side streams as food ingredients. That’s why the PROVE project was set up. Project leader Bram Pareyt (Research Manager Proteins at Puratos) tells us all about it.
PROVE is an innovation project within EIT Food. It stands for ’Functionalisation and valorisation of PROteins and VEgetable sources’. Bram: “The project focuses on a key issue: how can we make sure that, in the future, the rapidly growing world population will still have access to proteins? It’s obvious that animal-based proteins alone won’t be sufficient for much longer. We need to gain access to plant-based and hybrid (plant- and animal-based mixtures of) proteins from new sources, but we also need to look into plant-based side streams that are now used as animal feed. We investigate how we can valorise these streams to food that’s suitable for humans.”
Seven partners (from industry, research centres and academia) partnered up to contribute to achieving future food security. “With these partners, we cover almost the entire chain from farm to fork.”
5 raw material types were identified as innovative sources of plant-based proteins. In the first part of the PROVE project, that was recently completed, the potential of 3 of them, as well as of protein ingredients developed from them, was analysed: lupine, canola and fava bean. When the project gets a sequel, oats and sunflower will be investigated. “We want to make protein concentrates and protein isolates from these plant streams. These have potential as clean(er) label alternatives for ingredients that are currently used. They are also an efficient way of bringing more proteins to staple foods, for example. Finally, plant proteins are typically more sustainable than animal derived proteins, and when they are produced more efficiently (e.g. from waste streams), they also contribute to even higher sustainability.”
Next to the examination of these plants and derived protein streams, the study included an online survey to address consumer demands, sensory tests with an internal panel of untrained consumers, and sensory tests with a panel of experts.
One of the tasks of the PROVE project was a consumer study, as EIT Food strives towards increasing consumer trust on the food they consume. To address consumer demands in terms of health, nutritional, and sensory quality, and to bring a step change to new product development with cleaner and more sustainable processes, over 5000 consumers in 5 European countries were interviewed via an online survey. “Consumers were asked about their attitude towards proteins and plant-based products. What do they know about them, how far does their knowledge stretch? What should we take into account when developing plant-based protein ingredients?”
The results of the survey showed that consumers are quite familiar with proteins and the
type of food in which they can be found. “Their overall perception on proteins is positive, most of them prefer plant-based proteins above animal proteins like milk and egg. We also proposed the concept of high protein bread. The survey showed that communicating clearly helps to improve the perception. But the sensory tests that we performed also proved that quality is still leading: the taste and texture prevail above the protein content.
For Puratos, this topic is extremely important. “It’s an important aspect within our Health & Well-being strategy. Puratos is always looking for solutions that are future-proof: nutritious, sustainable and healthy. It also fits perfectly in our focus on clean(er) labels. Plant-based ingredients can be used to replace certain E-numbers, and, with the right functionality, blends of plant & animal proteins will be more sustainable than milk or eggs alone.
It’s a key challenge to develop solutions with these new sources, while maintaining taste and nutritional value. Bakery products are an important source of proteins; with bread, you can effectively boost the protein intake of people. In patisserie, animal proteins have always been very functional. Baking a cake without eggs is quite challenging, so plant-based proteins have tough shoes to fill here. The learnings from this project are therefore very important to us, and we take them into future projects and opportunities.
Are you curious about other future-proof solutions that Puratos is contributing to? Discover how bread, bananas and potatoes can be reused into new tasty products.