In this presentation we will show our unique MINIScreen (Matrix INteractIon Screening) platform available for fast screening in miniaturized plant based foods. Via this platform we assist plant-based product manufacturers within dedicated contract research projects to develop fermentation strategies to produce ingredients and/or specific functionalities in the product matrix, allowing for improvement of the performance of plant-based products. Bascially our strategy is to reverse-engineer the properties of an animal product into a plant-based version. With the use of the MINIScreen platform new innovative products can be developed in a relatively short timespan, reduced risk and with optimal use of resources.
The MINIScreen platform consists of high throughput analysis of the key performance indicator of interest in the final product matrix. A pipetting robot for automated liquid handling is used to automatically determine viable cell concentrations of beneficial organisms (fermentation) or unfavorable organisms (spoilage or pathogenic microorganisms) ensuring reproducibility of the fermented product whilst at the same time ensuring safety and shelf-life are within the required parameters. Furthermore, viscosity can be determined and may serve as a proxy for texture properties. Finally, samples for protein functionality and flavor analysis may be taken in time and analyzed by a range of mass spectral technologies. For analysis flavor volatiles formed are grouped into functional groups to efficiently assess which ferments should be selected for further development.
All of the above can be done for hundreds to thousands of conditions on a weekly basis. This will allow companies to formulate a plant-based product such that it has the best flavor, texture and shelf-life stability characteristics. In these collaborations, we will bring our expertise on strains, cultures, grow conditions, food-microbiology, aroma and flavour to the table.
Martijn Bekker, WUR / Wageningen Food & Biobased Research