Issue 34

Protein science builds new innovation platform

Molecular understanding is essential to meet rising expectations

Novel scientific knowledge is priming Arla Foods Ingredients to move to the next level of milk protein expertise as food manufacturers demand increasingly specific functionalities and cleaner labels.
The source is an industrial PhD project that is exploring the impact of heat treatment on milk proteins. A series of product innovations are already in the pipeline based on the project’s findings so far.

First results published
PhD student Jon Gade Hansted is jointly employed by Arla Foods Ingredients and Aarhus University to run the three-year project, which is also supported by the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation.
The first results of the research were published earlier this year in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Proteins and Proteomics.

Better predictions
“Jon is making a scientific map that is increasing our understanding of milk proteins at a molecular level,” says Peter Wejse, food scientist at Arla Foods Ingredients and mentor for the PhD project. “This will equip us to make better predictions of the outcome when tailoring specific milk proteins to a specific food application.”
Particularly consumer demand for more natural foods calls for a deeper understanding of protein mechanisms in developing ways to replace artificial additives.

Strong academic ties
Arla Foods Ingredients is a keen proponent of the industrial PhD programme, which establishes a strong connection between industry and academia. A number of industrial PhD students are currently employed to expand the company’s extensive knowledge reserves.
Hansted is on schedule to complete his final PhD thesis in January 2012. After that, he has many ideas for future milk protein studies.“It is an incredibly exciting area that continues to give insight into the broad opportunities for further research,” he states.