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Motif partnership to explore rheological properties of plant-based foods

Posted: 8 July 2020 | | No comments yet

Motif FoodWorks has partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to better understand the properties and sensory experience of plant-based foods.

Motif partnership to explore rheological properties of plant-based foods

Motif FoodWorks, the plant-based ingredient innovation company, has announced partnerships with two leading universities in chemical and mechanical engineering – the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – to better understand and design the rheological properties of plant-based foods. Researching the way plant-based foods break down under specific conditions, such as chewing, aims to enable Motif to develop techniques that will ultimately improve the texture and mouthfeel of plant-based meat and dairy. 

“Texture is a critical piece of the puzzle in plant-based food – and consumers who are open to trying plant-based foods will only return to them if the veggie burger breaks down into a juicy bite with every chew, or their vegan yogurt is silky smooth,” said Stefan Baier, Motif’s lead for food science. “To get these textures right in plant-based foods, we need to continue to evolve the way we approach food design, and that means looking at every single element that goes into the eating experience. Our research with UIC and UIUC aims to apply advanced rheological techniques to plant-based food formulation in novel ways that could uncover critically missed insights and unlock unprecedented possibilities for the texture of plant-based foods.” 

The research with UIC and UIUC will be led by Baier in partnership with the rheology experts from UIC Department of Chemical Engineering, Professor Vivek Sharma, and UIUC Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Professor Randy Ewoldt. Over the course of the two-year project, Motif will work with UIC and UIUC to research advanced rheological techniques from the fields of mechanical and chemical engineering and determine how they can be applied to plant-based products in new ways. The cross-disciplinary project will arm the food industry with novel insights and enable Motif to formulate ingredients with increased precision and impact. 

“We are excited to partner with Motif to explore how principles of chemical and molecular engineering can be applied for better understanding of the influence of plant-based ingredients on food rheology, and processing,” said Sharma. “Applying our research on interfacial and rheological properties in this exciting space has the potential to drive new and better outcomes in plant-based products.”

“Measuring and defining rheological properties is an incredibly complex process,” said Ewoldt. “Most of all in food, where every movement of the jaw introduces new variables. We’re looking forward to working with the Motif team to apply our research in new ways, and potentially create more advanced rheological techniques in food that could enable an entirely new set of food design rules.”   

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