“Development, production and processing of fermentation based proteins in food, feed and fine chemicals” (article in Dutch)

Summary. In the transition to a more sustainable food system, microbial protein is gaining ground. Microorganisms can produce two types of proteins through fermentation, biomass proteins and precision proteins. The production of biomass proteins, also called single cell proteins, involves harvesting the entire biomass, rich in proteins. In addition, precision proteins also exist. Through genetic modification, a micro-organism can also be induced to produce a specific protein. After purification, these proteins can add nutritional value, flavour and colour to meat, fish and cheese analogues. Enzymes or additives with other functionalities can also be made through precision fermentation.

Ecological sustainability is the driver for this innovation, due to low greenhouse gas emissions, and limited water and land use compared to animal products. Moreover, it can help close cycles by using by-products and residues from agri-food and emissions from industry (e.g. CO2). Thus, it can contribute to more sustainable food production for the increasing global protein demand.

The development and industrial implementation of microbial protein production, as well as the processing of the products, still have an extensive development path ahead in most cases. This involves major challenges, which are outlined in this article. The Ghent region has a unique ecosystem of research centres, developers, pilot facilities and producers working around microbial proteins. All these players together span the entire chain from micro-organism to finished food or feed product. Through the establishment of The ProteInn Club (initiators UGent, CAPTURE, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant and ILVO) they are now joining forces to accelerate the development of these promising technology(ies) and to roll them out in actual industrial production of useful applications.

Authors: Karen Verstraete (ILVO), Siegfried Vlaeminck (UAntwerpen, CAPTURE), Geert Van Royen (ILVO), Nele Ameloot (UGent), Hendrik Waegeman (BBEPP).

Read the full article (in Dutch) in Food Science and Law, editie 2023/1.