A Dutch public-private consortium is collaborating on a multi-year project to optimize processing conditions for different microbial organisms, including microalgae, bacteria, fungi and yeasts. The objective of the project is to assess which microbial proteins possess the functional, economic and sustainability characteristics necessary to create protein-rich ingredients for food applications.
Rianne Ruijschop, head of NIZO’s Health department and coordinator of the consortium, explains that the project is divided into four experimental parts to address the challenges of microbial protein production. These are the efficient cultivation of organisms, the growth of industrial side streams, the assurance of achievable biomass yields with high protein and nucleic acid composition, and the development of scalable processes. At the end of the project, food application trials will be performed on a selected set of proteins, focusing on dairy, meat and bakery analogues.
Dutch government fund
The public-private consortium was funded by the Dutch government under the Top Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) program and facilitated by the Sustainable Food Initiative Foundation (SFI).
The group carrying out the project is made up of industrial partners Revyve, Phycom, Unilever, Westland Kaas and PeelPioneers. Knowledge partners are AB Mauri, NIZO, Wageningen University, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and HAS University of Applied Sciences.
“Sustainably producing alternative protein ingredients for value-added foods, using side streams and existing microbial cells, is a huge step forward for consumers and manufacturers. Thus, the objectives of the project correspond very closely to NIZO’s work on protein transition, using our long tradition in the dairy sector and our strongly science-based approach. We are therefore delighted to participate and coordinate this consortium which brings together important players from both the industrial and knowledge sides,” commented Ruijschop.
The multi-year project started in September 2022 and will run for four years until the end of 2026.