Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University

Protein is the key ingredient in our foods and diets. It’s not only important to the nutritional value, but also determines structure and texture. At Wageningen University and Research we improve the functionality of plant proteins, and apply these to make better plant-based foods.

To accelerate the transition towards a more plant-based diet, we will need a better understanding of plant proteins. At this moment there is still limited knowledge on how to balance functionality, yield, and cost in extraction. Plant-based foods are a new category, so we’re also lacking deep understanding of the end-product and how plant proteins interact with the food-matrix.

Finding the right application
- To help find the best application for a specific ingredient, we start our research at the extraction process. By adding the functionality screening in this process, and by looking at the interaction between ingredients within a specific product we can help you find the right application for one specific plant-based ingredient in which it excels.

At Wageningen University and Research we focus on defining the characterization of functionalities of new ingredients. This can help you to design and improve the extraction process for a specific protein source, and so improve the protein functionality in the final product.

Due to the versatility of proteins and their interactions with the food matrix ingredients, one cannot easily replace another without affecting the structure and the texture of our food. We have experience in both understanding ingredient functionality and their interactions within a food product application. We provide solutions to complex applications such as the combined formulation of food products, design and development of dairy and meat alternatives, for improved texture and taste.

Our expertise
The expertise field Protein Technology (PT) focuses on plant protein functionality, and understanding how this functionality is affected by crop composition, the processing conditions towards protein-ingredient and the application of proteins in recipes and products. The two main areas of interest are:

Protein technology – process
- More functional and more tasty plant proteins (via plant breeding or cultivar screening)
- Impact of processing conditions of the raw material to the functionality of protein ingredient
- Mild fractionation and mild preservation
- Influences of purity & yield on protein functionality

Protein technology - product:
- Protein functionality (high throughput screening)
- Protein functionality in a food matrix
- Interactions with other ingredients
- Influence of protein structuring on protein digestibility.

While the primary scientific interest of Protein Technology is on alternative sources of proteins, animal-derived proteins are part of its scope as well, e.g., in understanding the interchangeability of proteins in applications and interactions between proteins and other ingredients.

Protein Technology group works closely together with the Food Technology expertise fields Food Processing Technology and Product Physics & Development, the expertise field Food Informatics (data science), and with Wageningen Plant Research. The expertise field provides support to the program Proteins for Life and Food Innovations for Responsible Choices.

PPIC Supporter/Collaborator

Executive Board Member

Laurice Pouvreau

Laurice Pouvreau
Expertise Leader Protein Technology