Dr. Jean-Charles MOTTE is a senior project manager and head of the dry fractionation unit at IMPROVE for 7 years. Expert in dry processes with a focus on protein concentrate and powder characterization, the innovations he developed have been transposed multiple times from the pilot scale to the industrial scale. He holds a PhD in anaerobic digestion of lignocellulose residues obtained at INRA Narbonne. In his 12 years of professional life, he has acquired solid skills as an R&D project manager, not only at IMPROVE, but also at INRA in Montpellier, where he was able to lead many innovative dry process fractionation projects in the biomaterials and biotech industry.
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, and 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 reorganize.
This presentation will review the challenges that alternative proteins have to face: the distinct sensory profile, functionality gap between traditional proteins and alternative proteins, complex extraction process consuming a lot of resources (water, energy) and generating waste, and the 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, valorization of by-products, use of new crops and genetics improvement of existing crops, the 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.