Replacing dairy with plant protein in cheese

In recent years, interest in plant proteins has grown as they are sustainable and cost effective. However, replacing dairy proteins by dairy proteins, often gives issues. One of the food products where proteins can be replaced by plant proteins is cheese. As NIZO has more than 70 years’ experience in dairy and cheese technology and more than 15 years’ experience with functionalizing plant proteins for uses as alternative to animal proteins, NIZO started a consortium together with HAS Den Bosch, Bel Leerdammer, FujiOil and Daiya Foods.

The coming three years, the researchers will investigate and develop strategies that allow to fully or partially replace dairy protein for plant protein in new products having the characteristics of traditional cheese. To do so, the research team has to overcome intrinsic shortcomings of plant proteins: low solubility, inferior consistency/texture and flavour defects. Eventually, the developed strategies should allow partners to produce palatable new products based on plant proteins; with lower carbon footprint, comparable functionality and nutritional value matching traditional dairy cheeses.

To achieve these goals, NIZO will explore research directions like fermentation and enzymatic and physical protein modification. The researchers aim to replace typical dairy protein’s roles in cheese: network formation and gelation, emulsification and flavour generation in a physically and microbially stable and safe product. HAS University of Applied Sciences will be focussing on consumer acceptance and positioning of new plant based cheese alternative. Bel Leerdammer, FujiOil and Daiya Foods contribute to the knowledge platform by sharing specific expertise and pilot facilities in their respective market field.

This project is financially supported by the Dutch Topsector Agri & Food. Within the Topsector, private industry, knowledge institutes and the government are working together on innovations for safe and healthy food for 9 billion people in a resilient world.

For more information, please contact Dr. Eva Düsterhöft, E: eva.düsterhöft@nizo.com, T: +31 318 659 635.