Next Generation Protein Ingredients – Prof. Dr. Ir. F. (Fred) van de Velde (NIZO)

Prof. Dr. Ir. F. (Fred) van de Velde, Principal Scientist and Expertise Group Leader Protein Functionality at NIZO, will be presenting the talk “From Seed to Society: Breaking the technology barriers for the next generation plant proteins” at the 12th Plant Protein Ingredients Summit to be held in Saskatoon, May 29-31, 2019. He shares his vision on the future of proteins.

What can you tell us about the content of your presentation?

The title of my presentation is “From Seed to Society: Breaking the technology barriers for the next generation plant proteins”. I will use the example of pulse proteins (e.g. pea and faba bean) on the chain approach from seed to society (final consumer product). Thereafter, the focus will be on RuBisCO, algae, nuts and other oil containing seeds as sources of plant protein ingredients. The impact of processing on the quality/purity of the protein ingredients will be discussed, as well as the impact thereof on functionality in terms of texture and flavour.

What is your role in the protein transition?

As Principal Scientist I am involved in a wide range of projects. Ranging from protein extraction and ingredient development to product applications and new product development. By working for different customers I have seen a wide range of different plant proteins. All having their different functionalities, which helps me in developing consumer products based on plant proteins, but also other alternative proteins, such as algae etc. Typical challenges our customers face are off flavours related to plant proteins, texture problems, process developments, nutritional composition etc.

What is your sweet spot and personal interest in the transition based on your role or background? 

My sweet spot is seeing that breeding is used to obtain protein ingredients with enhanced functionalities. Think of improved flavour profile, protein content, nutritional profile etc. Thus a chain approach from seed to society. What I love about the people I work with is that we all have our own expertise and use these expertises together to come to a pragmatic and implementable solution for our customers.

What is the role of your organisation can play in the protein transition?

As a privately owned research company, NIZO support both ingredient suppliers and consumer end product producers in the development of new ingredients and products. We do this on a project base with individual customers, but also in consortia with research parties, commercial customers and universities, which often address more fundamental research topics.

As we work for different customers, we have broad view on the different ingredients and different functionalities that can be delivered by different plant proteins. With our dedicated teams we work in a multidisciplinary way on flavour, texture, health related topics and process optimisation. Customers sometimes come to us with a potential solution in mind and because we have so much expertise in house (and have access to a worldwide network of experts), we are able to suggest and execute alternative routes, which could be more beneficial for a customer from e.g. a cost perspective, a production perspective or a consumer perspective. Together with our customers we come to the best fitting solution for their business.

Each project is executed by a dedicated multidisciplinary team at NIZO in a confidential way. This means that we sometimes have to say to customers that we are not free to operate because we are working on a certain topic for another customer already.

Which barriers for the protein transition exist now in your society in your opinion?

The main barrier for the protein transition is to ensure that the main stream consumer will make the choice to switch her or his diet. Most companies focus on plant proteins as alternative for animal proteins, but recently a company called Beyond Meat introduced a hamburger which one of the major supermarkets in the Netherlands sells in the meat aisle of the supermarket instead of in the vegetarian corner. At this moment most people are raised with the thought that vegetarian burgers are alternatives to meat. Beyond Meat sees it as complementary to meat, instead as a replacement. I am curious to see how this will develop!

What is needed to raise the bar and accelerate the uptake of plant proteins in foods, petfood and aquaculture?

More research in both ingredient development as well as consumer product development, combined with a thorough understanding of the consumer behaviour effecting the choices for more plant-based products.

How does your ‘moonshot’ regarding the protein transition look like?

Seeing plant-based products in the market that are a category on their own, rather than being an alternative to meat or milk. I would love to see new concepts that position plant proteins as an individual category of food.

Prof. Dr. Ir. F. (Fred) van de Velde is the principal scientist and expertise group leader protein functionality at NIZO (Ede, the Netherlans). Working on a wide range of plant protein sources and plant-based products over the last 15 years. Last year he was appointed as professor protein transition at HAS university of applied sciences (‘s Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands).


About the 12th Plant Protein Ingredients Summit

The 12th Plant Protein Ingredients Summit 2019 will focus on:

  • New Plant Protein Ingredients
  • Novel Plant Protein Process Technologies
  • New Plant Protein Applications

Shifting Gears will be more and more important to meet concerns over future food and nutritional security related to protein supply & demand is rapidly rising on the global and European agenda of governments, industries, and agricultural value chains in view of stabilizing crop yields and a fastly growing population.

Growing more plant protein in Canada and North-America is very important from a sustainability, climate and self-sufficiency point of view. The demand for plant protein ingredients is increasing and there are many economic opportunities. Consumers are also seeking more healthy and sustainable diets and they are increasing their plant-based foods intake. And how can we meet the protein needs of 9 billion people in a sustainable, healthy & environmentally friendly way? How can the food industry tap into growing consumer appetites new foods, tastes & plant-based foods? What is the actual potential for plant protein ingredients to move into the mainstream & gain scale to make a larger commercial impact?

Which processing technologies are needed to improve the texture, taste and nutrition of plant protein ingredients? Is there a need for a global protein research agenda? When so, what are the key elements and how can industry and government across the national borders work together. More info

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