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"Next generation": Roquette launches vegetable protein research initiative

By Shane Starling from Lille, France , 08-Oct-2012
Last updated the 09-Oct-2012 at 11:21 GMT

Bernard Boursier, director of Roquette's Food Applications Laboratory, tests a new vegetable protein formulation with Health & Nutrition comms manager, Marie Blondel
Bernard Boursier, director of Roquette's Food Applications Laboratory, tests a new vegetable protein formulation with Health & Nutrition comms manager, Marie Blondel

French ingredients giant Roquette has launched a pea protein research programme dedicated to, “the next generation of plant-based proteins”.

The company has been researching and working with pea proteins for decades but the new initiative – called PROTEOV – is the result of an intensified research effort and broadening of scope to the other three major nutrient sources at Roquette: Potato, wheat and corn.

Roquette director of nutrition and health programmes, Anne Cortier, told us from Roquette’s headquarters near Lille in the north of France, that a combination of environmental, nutritional and food formulation concerns were driving forces behind PROTEOV.

Time to market

“The programme is research-driven but it is very customer-oriented – we are isolating plant proteins in new ways but we never lose sight of the fact we want to reduce time to market for our customers,” Cortier said. This is about the next generation of plant-based proteins. It is the first time plant-based proteins have been isolated this way.”

Roquette says its work – that on a pure research level began 10 years ago – has overcome taste and texture issues typically associated with vegetable protein when placed in various food and drink matrices via techniques such as improved fermentation.

While we got a sneak peak, the programme will officially launch at the Health Ingredients Europe (HIE) trade show in Frankfurt on November 13, where a range of vegetable protein formulations will be showcased. Sports, weight management-slimming and clinical and infant nutrition would form the initial focus points.

Cortier said partnerships were already in place with commercial ingredient and food manufacturing partners.

There is a growing consensus that vegetable proteins are going to have to form a greater part of the human diet to improve nutritional intake and planetary wellbeing as the global population is expected to jump to 9bn by 2050.

Several clinical trials around the formulation and nutritional benefits of plant proteins would be published in upcoming months and years.

Roquette, Europe’s biggest cereals processor, has the potential to process more than 600,000 tonnes of proteins per year.

Carole Petitjean, from corporate R&D communication, said the programme was further evidence of its transformation into a bio refiner and very far removed from its beginnings 75 years ago as a starch supplier.

Open Innovation

In a statement, Cortier said of PROTEOV: “The research programme has the financial, technical and human resources to match Roquette Group’s ambitions, ie multi-disciplinary teams, laboratories, pilot production areas, application centres and pre-industrial units.”

"In addition, PROTEOV fits into the process of open innovation. The objective is to pool skills and expertise in order to speed up the marketing of new products.”

Bruno Gehin, head of the PROTEOV programme, added: “With an average annual growth of 5% in volume terms over the last 3 years, the plant-based protein market has to satisfy ever-increasing consumer demand. The ability to meet this demand depends on new plant-derived sources delivering reliable, sustainable and affordable alternatives to animal proteins or soybeans.”

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