Protein application

Dairy & Plant Proteins


A successful product requires good taste, stability and shelf life. To achieve this, the functional properties of proteins (dairy, animal and plant), such as structure, texture, taste, stability, solubility, thermal stability, costs and flavour, are essential. Our expertise in protein functionality combined with the ability to understand which taste and texture properties of the final product the consumer prefers, enables you to develop a functional protein ingredient as well as a tasty product.

At NIZO we have developed methods to obtain high-protein foods, to increase the use of plant proteins and to improve the functionality of animal or plant proteins. High protein foods (sport and nutritional products) are gaining interest because of their health benefits and consumer demands for highly nutritional foods. Technological challenges need to be overcome to get high enough levels of protein into the product, which at the same time also needs to have a satisfying sensory quality. Furthermore, in recent years, interest in plant proteins has grown as they are sustainable and cost effective. However, the solubility and flavour of these proteins is often an issue. At NIZO, we have developed a series of techniques to increase the solubility of these proteins and methods to work around the negative off-flavours associated with them. See also our case ‘Tuning plant protein functionality from extraction to application’ and our white paper ‘Vegetable Proteins’. Our understanding of proteins within each step of the chain “from protein to benefit” means that we can control the properties of protein ingredients as well as the quality and perception (mouth feel and flavour) of the final consumer product.

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José Escher is happy to answer all your questions.

+31 6 533 394 78

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Benchmarking your (plant) protein

The first step in the protein supply chain is protein extraction. Work we do in this phase concentrates on developing or optimizing the extraction, fractionation and processing in such a way that the protein functionality is maintained or enhanced. We also realize that costs are very important. We therefore investigate which protein source is the most cost-effective while maintaining a high quality of the protein isolate. Our understanding of protein functionality, from animal to plant protein, will help you identify possibilities for improving that functionality and valorizing your protein preparation. Our understanding will provide tools to select the optimal ingredient for your protein application, allowing a more precise and flexible procurement of your ingredients.

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Sometimes it is quite difficult to know where to position your protein ingredient in the market. Our bench marking study compares your protein ingredients with reference products. With our 70 years of experience we have performed numerous benchmarking studies for both plant and dairy proteins. A bench-mark study will show you what functionality you need to improve to meet or beat the competition and it will help you to identify possibilities for valorizing your protein preparation. In addition it will deliver tools to select the right protein ingredient for your protein application. With the help of a benchmark study you can find out how a specific plant protein competes with other plant proteins or understand why some protein ingredients, or particular batches of them, do not work in your application. Interested in a benchmark study? See our case ‘How to benchmark your protein ingredient’.


Reformulating is a hot topic in the food industry. This can be in the direction of clean label, the application of plant proteins or the reduction of fat, sugar or salt. At NIZO we help global food and ingredient companies to understand the performance of their reformulated products and/or ingredients with our expertise in microstructural analysis. One of the powerful tools we use for this purpose is confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). With this instrument we can perform real-time visualization of complex food matrices, elucidating product microstructure at the same time as obtaining composition information.

CLSM, a powerful technique to visualize different ingredients, can be extended using add-ons to quickly scan and to tackle stability issues, tailor mouth feel, and optimize products and processes. Identifying the changes in the microstructure during oral processing is of crucial importance to understanding and tailoring mouth feel attributes, such as creaminess, grittiness, astringency and juiciness. This quick scan allows you to tailor mouth feel and further optimize your product. For more information, see our case ‘How to use confocal microscopy to tackle reformulation challenges’. An example of creating a successful food product low in sugar and fat combined with our protein application tools, is our NIZO ice cream.

Protein-flavour relationships

Food products containing a high concentration of proteins and/or proteins from plant sources, often have a characteristic off-flavour and a specific mouth feel (e.g. astringency) that consumers often do not like. With our extensive expertise in flavour, texture and mouth feel and the interaction between them, NIZO has access to state-of-the art tools (e.g. tribometer, LC-MS/MS, and PTR-MS) in combination with sensory studies, which will help you in creating delicious products that perfectly fit consumer expectations. These tools can also be used to improve the quality of foods for optimal consumer reward in case of reduction of sugar, salt or fat in a product. Producing natural, clean label flavours by fermentation or enzymatic processes is another of our key areas of expertise. With our in-depth technical knowledge of flavour and texture we can help you create delicious all-natural products.

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Product-process interactions

As well as understanding the interactions between proteins and other ingredients in food products, we also control the impact of processing. A prototype product or ingredient is usually developed at lab scale. Translating lab scale development to industrial processing scale requires a lot of effort to ensure the final product and process will meet all requirements in quality, production volumes and yield. In a joint effort with your experts we will help you limit your investment risks by demonstrating the technology at small industrial scale in our food grade Processing Centre.

Combining the results of the pilot plant trials with our process simulation modelling platform, we can simulate your processes. With our vast understanding of product–process interactions we will efficiently scale up the production of your new (protein) ingredients, maximize your process efficiency and shorten your time to market.

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Protein applications in clinical and sports nutrition

High-protein foods (like clinical and sports nutrition), in many cases, need improvement from a sensory perspective: they often still contain off-flavours, are too viscous and hard to swallow when applied in liquid products, or are too chewy in solid states. Texture problems can also occur in low-fat products where fat has been replaced with extra protein. These products are often perceived as drier and less juicy. To improve consumer acceptance of high-protein products, and mask off-flavours, it is crucial to control their viscosity and texture. This means decreasing liquid products’ viscosity, increasing its dispersibility and improving the overall mouth feel of high protein products.

NIZO can help you both on the texture and mouth feel side as well as on the flavour aspect of high-protein foods.

The application of high levels of proteins is also often limited by the flavour or off-flavour of these ingredients. Ideally, proteins should be as bland as possible in order to be applicable in a wide variety of foods including foods with delicate flavour systems such as dairy or dairy alternative foods. Hence, reducing the off-flavours associated with the proteins receives a lot of interest. Methods that are required should cover removing the (native) flavours from the raw materials, prevent off-flavour development during the manufacturing of the protein isolated or mask residual off notes.

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