Seeding the future: Symrise and Dutch researchers to scale legumes with optimized taste and functionality
19 Oct 2022 --- Symrise has linked up with Netherlands-based Wageningen University and Research (WUR) to spearhead the Pulses Optimized for Flavor and Functionality project, which covers the supply chain of legumes from seed to product.
Symrise and WUR’s project aims to contribute to the alternative protein transition by breeding pulses for optimal flavor, functionality and sustainability.
“This investment by Symrise and the other consortium partners is improving product quality as well as supporting biodiversity by breeding better varieties of pulses like peas and fava beans,” says Dr. Melanie Stuertz, research & technology, Symrise.
The project is anticipated to enable “significant growth” in the European pulses supply chain.
“It will also continue to drive the development of responsibly sourced ingredients that enhance quality and taste in the alternative protein market,” states the partnership.
Biodiversity through variety
The food industry and consumers are increasingly looking for protein sources from legumes, such as peas and faba beans to replace animal protein in alternative meat and dairy products.
The project investigates one of the major challenges of plant protein sources. Currently, legume proteins often lack optimal flavor and functionality for use in consumer products, notes the partnership.
This project sees Symrise, plant scientists, food scientists and other partners collaborating to improve this situation by combining their expertise, specifically for use in complex foods.
The species the project focuses on grow well in the European climate. They also work well as protein sources for human consumption.
And they produce a relatively high yield and fix the nitrogen content of the soil. These factors make legumes, certain pulses with dried edible seeds attractive as protein crops.
The project also includes participating organizations including Emsland Group, GDM Seeds, Plant & Bean, Symrise, Unilever, Vandinter Semo, Van Waveren, Vion Food Nederland and Westland Kaas.
This development comes at the heels of second publicly funded project with WUR, in which Symrise partnered, aimed at developing an understanding of mechanisms driving flavor and texture perception of meat equivalents. It intends to apply its findings across the supply chain to improve sensory quality of meat equivalents.
A host of plant breeding advancements are facilitating the next-generation of nutrient-dense, resilient crops for future food. Stemming from this science, crops designed with animal proteins that “curdle” or offer “meaty” properties are expanding commercially, while new speed breeding systems and computer vision are offering food producers key cereals with a higher nutrient profile and genetic purity.
Earlier this year, US food-tech player Pairwise has partnered with Tropic Biosciences, a UK agri-food tech company focused on tropical crops, to bolster new varieties of two critically important crops – banana and coffee – with genomic base editing technology.
In other recent developments, pea protein’s performance saw a boost from Equinom’s new AI-solution that enhances the crop’s ability to deliver desirable traits optimized for food applications, including high protein content.
Edited by Benjamin Ferrer
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