As a Senior Scientist at NIZO food research, Laurice Pouvreau executes contract research projects for companies worldwide. Her focus is on proteins, and more specifically on plant proteins and plant-derived ingredients. With a background in protein chemistry, she obtained her PhD at the Laboratory of Food Chemistry in Wageningen on the extraction and characterisation of potato proteins. At NIZO, Laurice is now working on evaluating the potential of plant proteins as food ingredients. The challenge is now to obtain plant proteins with similar functional properties, flavour and mouthfeel as animal proteins (such as dairy proteins).
Pea and soy are the best known and most widely used protein ingredients obtained from pulses. This family of plants offers sustainable advantages because they are able to bind nitrogen from the air by symbiosis, giving them an impressively high protein generation to growing space ratio. The pulse family, however, has a lot more to offer. It includes a wide range of crops, including beans, chickpeas, lentils and lupine which, Fred maintains, all have the potential to compete with pea and soy as rich protein sources. Drawing on the latest research, Fred will show how protein isolates can be extracted from these crops and the functional uses these ingredients can be put to.