Research project: AQRIFood
The aim is to establish the foundation for developing superior plant-based food products for the future, and exploit the potential for Denmark to become a leader in the increasing global market for plant-based foods, while at the same time contribute significantly to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing pressures on the environment and improving biodiversity. This will require a coordinated effort focused on increasing the quality of raw materials and ingredients through advanced plant breeding, crop management and processing technologies while at the same time ensuring sustainability, supply and demand.
The project addresses an urgent unmet need for high-quality plant-based raw materials and ingredients. This will be essential for developing superior plant-based food products made from oat, pea and faba bean cultivated by Danish farmers, and crucial for giving Danish food sector companies a competitive advantage on the rapidly increasing global market for plant-based food. Currently, the raw materials and ingredients used for plant-based food products are almost exclusively made from unspecified cultivars of imported soy as well as oat, pea and faba bean that are either imported or domestically produced and traded as bulk commodities primarily used for feed. This is the case both nationally and internationally. Therefore, it will be a substantial business opportunity for Denmark if Danish food sector companies could get access to raw materials and ingredients that are made from cultivars selected and bred for meeting the specific quality requirements relevant for making superior plant-based food products.
It is envisioned that the AQRIFood project will be structured in three phases:
- Phase I: Raw materials and derived ingredients (funded by Innovation Fund Denmark)
- Phase II: Ferments (funding TBD)
- Phase III: Breeding, supply and demand (funding TBD)
AQRIFood Phase I will provide detailed knowledge about the most important nutritional, functional and sensory characteristics of raw materials and derived ingredients from the selected cultivars of oat, pea and faba bean that are needed for making high-quality plant-based food products. This will make it possible for the partnering food sector companies to develop extracts, isolates and extrudates with higher quality than before. In AQRIFood Phase II the focus will be on improving food processing technologies and optimising protein bioavailability, functionality, digestibility and flavour generation via microbial fermentation and enzymatic treatments. In AQRIFood Phase III, which is planned to run in parallel with Phase II, the focus will be on improving the quality even further and unlock the potential for Denmark to become a global leader in plant-based food production by applying advanced plant breeding and crop management while at the same time ensuring sustainability, supply and demand. Phase III will be composed of a matrix of key elements and key pins that can be combined in different ways and in different projects depending on the current and future funding landscape. An overview of the overarching structure of the AQRIFood project and the key elements and key pins of Phase III is found below.
- Select and grow relevant cultivars of oats, pea and faba bean that are potentially suitable for large scale production of high quality plant-based food products
- Assess how the combination of selected cultivars and processing technologies affect the quality of raw materials, extracts, concentrates, isolates and extrudates (NB: Ferments and microbial cultures will be assessed in Phase II)
- Determine the most important quality parameters that need to be improved in Phase III for increasing the nutritional, sensorial and functional characteristics of raw materials and ingredients
- Evaluate and prepare low-mutation density library of faba bean for subsequent rapid identification of pre‐targeted genetic variants in Phase III (NB: Low-mutation density library of pea is expected to be developed by Carlsberg by 2022 and prepared together with library of oats in Phase III)
- Perform LCA pilot study including scoping and initial assessment of climate and biodiversity impact
University of Copenhagen
Innovationscenter for Økologisk Landbrug
Aarhus Protein A/S
Organic Plant Protein
Resources coming soon.
Christian Bugge Henriksen
AQRIFood is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark through the Innomission 3 AgriFoodTure Partnership.