Minnesota center promotes plant-protein food
American consumers and companies are increasingly interested in food products made from plant protein. The University of Minnesota's Plant Protein Innovation Center, said to be the first of its kind, is working to meet and promote that interest.
By Jonathan Knutson, Agweek (ND)
Apr. 5, 2021
When Pam Ismael founded the University of Minnesota's Plant Protein Innovation Center in 2018, she had her hands full trying to spread awareness of it. But things have changed.
"I started out two years ago calling people and inviting people to come to meetings and pursuing them to join. (Now) I've reached a point where I'm overwhelmed by the amount of attention the center is getting, and the companies are coming to us," said Ismael, the center's director.
"Everybody wants to be part of it and not be left behind. It's growing at a healthy pace," she said.
The center is based on two basic premises: The world's need for sustainably based protein is growing, as is demand for plant-based protein. Consumers are looking for more protein in their diets overall, sometimes for more plant-based protein in particular, and industry wants to meet that demand, she said.
The center, which Ismael said is the first of its kind, seeks "to bring industry and academics together and work on research topics that are interdisciplinary (and) that can bring to industry and the consumer new and nutritious plant protein products and foods."
The research includes plant breeding and genetics, agronomics, processing and commercialization and marketing. The work "spans the entire value food," and seeks to have a positive impact on the environment, she said...
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