Research project Micro-algen eiwitingrediënten voor het voedsel en voeder van de toekomst

In progress PROFUTURE
Microscopic view of Tetraselmis chui - © Inês Maia

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Main research question

Climate change, hunger, restricted access to protein sufficient diets and the scarcity of natural resources pose a major challenge for the food industry. We will have to switch to alternative environmentally-friendly, plant-based protein sources, Within the context of the great ‘protein transition’, in the future microalgae proteins are expected to contribute to a sufficient, nutritious, safe and affordable food supply for a rapidly growing world population with changing dietary habits. ProFuture aims to prepare the market introduction of innovative, socially responsible, sustainable, protein-rich food and feed ingredients from microalgae, produced in and approved by the EU. ProFuture is a 4-year project with 32 European participants from research-, production- and trading sectors. The project is funded by the EU program Horizon 2020 and seeks to deliver knowledge, actual product developments and market strategies around microalgae proteins.

Research approach

Within ProFuture, the focus of ILVO is to analyze the microalgae, protein extracts and by-products provided by the project partners that produce algae. Our analytical results will be the basis for food and feed safety and for decisions, such as choosing the appropriate microalgae strains, processing methods, food matrices and by-product valorization opportunities. Therefore, we will carry out comprehensive analyses, addressing the following characteristics of the products:
Nutritional parameters (such as composition and amino acid profile), techno-functional properties (viscosity, solubility, fat binding- and water holding capacity, gelling ability, thermal-, emulsifying- and foaming properties), safety characteristics (heavy metal analysis, allergenicity, microbiological stability and the presence of microcystin and ß-N-Methylamino-l-alanine), organoleptic profile (taste and smell) and interaction with food and feed matrices (emulsion- and gel heat stability, gel strength, zeta potential, developing and using model systems). Additionally the spiral filter press shall be evaluated as an extraction method, and spray drying and possibly agitated film drying as drying methods.

Relevance/Valorization

Several ProFuture partners will develop innovative food and feed products with protein rich microalgae ingredients. The market oriented project intends to promote an affordable, socially responsible and sustainable microalgae biomass production. The goal is to improve the microalgae value-chain in the EU, the consumer perception and acceptance and the regulation, business models and market strategies, contributing to and shaping the inevitable ‘protein transition’.