New plant-based protein sources to meet future food needs

New plant-based protein sources to meet future food needs


Health and wellness is a trend that is driving a change in the diets of people around the world. In recent years, the search for healthy and nutritious food has boosted the demand for plant-based proteins. According to the latest forecasts, between now and 2035, consumption of processed plant-based protein products will increase by more than 14%, from 13 million metric tons in 2020 to approximately 100 million metric tons (Statista, Dec, 2021).

In this scenario, the FOOD+i Cluster has promoted the creation of a business consortium of eight Spanish companies that stand out for their track record in the field of innovation in the food and beverage sector, determined to collaborate to face the challenge of finding new sources of vegetable proteins to complete the supply of the sources most widely used today by the sector, such as soy protein. New sources of vegetable protein will make it possible to diversify diets, provide other nutrients and give diets more variety and flavour.

Among the plants under study are broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, collard greens, kale, moringa, carob, sweet lupinus (from which lupine is extracted), tiger nuts, broad beans and various fungi.

The companies involved in the CRESCERE project seek to increase the added value of plants with high nutritional and chemopreventive value through the development of new uses and applications.

A project funded by the CDTI within its call for strategic projects CIEN and aligned with the European Farm-to-Fork strategy that pursues sustainability and circular economy of the food chain in the production of proteins of high nutritional value from plants (plant based).

The research team made up of scientists and technicians from the companies Kimitec, Carinsa, Ingredalia, Interal, Zyrcular Plant, Delafruit, DomusVi and Tecnopackaging have joined together under a model based on open research (Open Innovation) that will allow them to complement each other for the development of new products based on plant protein.

To achieve a qualitative and quantitative leap in the technological areas addressed in the CRESCERE project, the companies have the collaboration of the research organisations: CTIC CITA, FUNDACION TECNALIA, AITIIP, FUNDACIÓN CAJAMAR and the University of Vigo.

KIMITEC, which is also the technical coordinator of the project, will be in charge of scaling up, obtaining and characterising new ingredients.

In this sense, KIMITEC will also be involved in the improvement of the protein contribution and microproteins present in the target vegetable crops through the use of biostimulants and probiotics, which will improve the organoleptic, chemopreventive and nutritional properties of the food products from the origin.

INGREDALIA, a biotechnology company from Navarre that develops, manufactures and markets natural functional ingredients for industry from plant by-products, will focus on research into ways of obtaining the protein fraction and compounds of interest on a laboratory scale. It will be supported by CARINSA, which will lead the research to obtain protein preparations suitable for their application and stability studies.

To guarantee the use of these ingredients in the food processing sector, CRESCERE has processing companies: INTERAL, DOMUSVI, DELAFRUIT and ZYRCULAR PLANT, who will research technologies and processes for the formulation of multiple matrices with the project’s ingredients. DOMUSVI will also lead the study of the functionality of the peptides identified and the foods developed.

Finally, to encompass the entire value chain, TECNOPACKAGING will investigate a sustainable packaging system to contain the prototypes developed by the processing companies.

CRESCERE is a project funded by the CIEN Strategic Projects programme (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial E.P.E.) and will have a total duration of four years, from January 2021 to December 2024.

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