A new research project, partly funded by the Dutch government’s Top Sector Agri & Food initiative, aims to develop new fermentation processes to improve the quality and flavour of plant-based proteins. 

In recent years, it has become clear that a (partial) transition from animal- to plant-based proteins is underway in the food market. As a result, sales of plant-based dairy alternatives are expected to grow considerably between 2020 and 2025, with consumption of vegan cheese and milk alternatives increasing by 13% and nearly 17% each year in that period. 

However, plant-protein ingredients often contain unwanted compounds that can cause unpleasant flavours in end products. The three-year “Bio-purification of plant proteins” aims to develop fermentation-based bio-purification processes to eliminate those unwanted compounds from plant-based protein ingredients. 

“Fermentation is an age-old, well-known and safe technique in food production, used in everything from alcoholic beverages and bread to sauerkraut and yoghurt. But it is much more widely applicable than that. With this project, we aim to build on existing experience of using fermentation to remove undesired components and apply that more generally to the manufacture of new and improved plant-based food products,” says Vesela Tzeneva, Senior Project Manager at NIZO.  

“Increasing numbers of consumers are interested in diversifying their diets with plant-based food products. But they also want high-quality products, preferably with fewer chemical additives. This bio-purification project will pave the way towards such products, giving consumers much greater choice in the food they buy,” says Ralf Zink, Head of R&D, DMK.

The Bio-purification of plant proteins consortium