• 10:00-10:55
  • Zaal 1

Gentle Food Processing: Better sustainability can also mean better products

  • Remko Boom
  • Wageningen University

While it is evident that the availability of sufficient, high quality food without over-exploiting our Earth, will be one of our prime challenge in the coming decades. Therefore, we will need to transition into new ways of producing our foods. However, with some great exceptions, the overall rate at which we have been successful in transitioning towards new foods, such as plant based protein foods, has not been sufficient to comply with the goals set on sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions. But what if we could combine this with making better ingredients that would come a long way towards other consumer wishes, such as clean labelling and less processing, better stability and superior nutritional quality?
Unfortunately, our current ways of isolating ingredients, such as plant proteins, from their raw materials has often relatively low yield and requires significant amounts of water, chemicals and energy. This significantly reduces the potential of these ingredients to help us reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions, and thus to achieve our food production goals for 2050.
This can change if we change our perception of what an ingredient is. By not refining our ingredients to the highest purity, but limiting the refining, we find that we can dramatically increase the yield, lower the use of energy and water, and in many cases even have superior (techno)functionality, leading to well-structured and stable foods, without needing additives for stabilisation or protection,, which makes them suitable for clean label foods. These new can also have better nutritional value, due to the retention of fibre and micronutrients, and the retention of its natural microstructure. At the same time, the raw material is better utilised, leading to less side streams, while their quality remains much higher.
However, we will need to work together. We need to adapt these ingredients towards applications, and the formulation and creation of ready consumer foods needs to be integrated with the development and production of the ingredients. This will need more co-creation and more exchange of knowledge and information between ingredient producers and ingredient users. But if we are willing to do that, we can combine better sustainability and resource use, with better nutritional value and a better match with the wishes of the current consumers, creating large opportunities for food producers.