R&D lab manager - plant based protein. 10 years international experience in R&D project management.
The development of animal substitutes has gained a lot of popularity over the last years and many ingredients and products have appeared on the market during the last years. Important R&D efforts have been made to develop protein extraction processes from a wide range of sources such as pulses, cereals, oilseeds, insects, yeasts, by-products from the food industry and to develop substitutes for meat, dairy products and many foodstuffs. Despite the initial popularity, a few dissonant voices start to emerge and question the cost, nutrition, sensory quality and environmental quality of the first generation of alternative proteins. While the growth of vegan products is still high, some signs of slowing down are appearing, and ingredient and product developers start to reorganise. This presentation will review the challenges that alternative proteins have to face: distinct sensory profile, functionality gap between traditional protein and alternative proteins, complex extraction process consuming a lot of resources (water, energy) and generating waste, presence of anti-nutrients. It will then present some of the different strategies being developed to overcome the limits of this first generation of ingredients and products: innovation in wet-fractionation to generate taste-neutral proteins, advances in dry-fractionation to generate minimally processed ingredients, valorisation of by-products, use of new crops and genetics improvement of existing crops, rise of precision fermentation. It will illustrate the intense agitation of the alternative protein sector and the diversification of the strategies employed to match conflicting consumers’ demands.