The University of Nottingham and its spinoff The Good Pulse Company have received funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to further their research into making plant-based cheese from yellow peas.
The sum of over £300,000 will allow the researchers to develop commercial processes for the cheese alternatives, which are produced using UK-grown peas to make them as sustainable as possible. The products are also said to be far more nutritious than many vegan cheeses currently on the market, with a higher protein content and no need for modified starches or artificial additives.
“We have identified yellow peas as an ideal ingredient because of their composition and availability in the UK”
The project has previously received over £370,000 in funding from Big Idea Ventures and leading scientific research organisation Rothamsted Research. So far, the researchers have developed over 100 plant-based cheese prototypes, along with various gluten-free baked goods (also made from yellow peas).
The Good Pulse Company has also recently been accepted into the prestigious EIT Food Seedbed programme, and has partnered with one of Europe’s largest dairy cheese companies to co-develop pulse-based cheese alternatives. The partnership will lead to large-scale pilot production trials and the filing of a patent in the USA; it will also demonstrate the scalability of the technology to other pulses and food applications.
“A key step towards our goal”
The news follows similar developments at the University of Copenhagen, where scientists recently demonstrated how plant-based cheese could be produced using the natural fermentation of yellow pea protein. They found that bacteria could firm up the cheese alternatives while reducing the bean-like aroma of the peas.
“We are focused on creating a product that is tasty, has excellent nutritional value and that is also sustainable,” said Dr Vincenzo di Bari, Assistant Professor in Food Structure and Processing at the University of Nottingham. “From research we previously carried out, we have identified yellow peas as an ideal ingredient to achieve this because of their composition and availability in the UK. This is a key step towards our goal to deliver healthy products manufactured using sustainable UK-grown crops. We are now focused on developing technologies to be able to process the peas at a commercial level, with minimal processing or extra ingredients.”