Blending animal and plant proteins

Published on
November 9, 2015

The world population is expected to grow to 9 billion people in 2050. The demand for high nutritional foods will increase accordingly. This will put an enormous pressure on the future food production system, especially for the production of proteins.

Proteins play an important role in food for their nutritional and texture properties. Plant proteins are known to be more sustainable and cost effective than animal proteins, but may lack functionality and essential amino acids. Therefore, the interest in protein blends is growing for several reasons: 1) Introducing plant protein in our diet, 2) Cost reduction, and 3) Balance nutritional profile.

New product development

When proteins are mixed, the technical functionality of the blends, texture, foaming or emulsifying properties, could be higher than those of the individual proteins. This selective mixing can be of benefit for new product development. Recent research within the TIFN project lead by NIZO expert Dr. Laurice Pouvreau, showed that mixtures of soy and gelatine form a continuous system in which the two proteins form two independent protein networks. The fracture properties were dominated by the strongest of the two networks. With this approach a wide range in fracture properties was obtained, which exceeded that of the individual proteins. This allows food producers to use this approach in a wider field of applications. In parallel NIZO focussed on the emulsifying properties of blend of dairy and plant proteins. Highly functional pea protein showed much better performance in these mixtures than commercial pea protein ingredients.

Blends of proteins

Texture map of mixed gelatine / soy proteins gels and their parent gels (blue soy gels; red gelatine gels).

It strongly indicates the presence of a synergistic interaction between the proteins. And may be used to the design of new textures and to the possibility of partially replacing animal proteins by plant proteins without loss of texture.