Category Archives: Food Research

Proteins are basic supplements for the human body. They are essential for proper maintenance and growth of the human body. Vegan protein powders are one of the major factors influencing the protein supplement market growth, as a result of rising population of flexitarians in U.S. and Canada. If you have ever thought that a ready-mix, vegan protein powder would be a great addition to your portfolio, check how we, at CFER Labs, would be a great partner for this project.

According to Transparency Market Research, protein powder was the dominant product segment within protein supplements and accounted for a market share of 68% in 2017, on account of predominant consumption among gym professionals.  Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals. The amount of protein per scoop can vary from 10 to 30 grams.

Rapid innovation for manufacturing products containing an extensive range of amino acids and focus on functions, such as muscle repair, weight loss, energy balance, and satiety, is expected to create immense potential for market growth, and vegan protein powders are a clear rising star.

Characteristics of vegan proteins

Vegan protein sources normally lack lysine or methionine. [1] Grains are low in lysine, while legumes are low in methionine, both essential amino acids. Combining proteins is one way to ensure getting adequate amounts of essential amino acids. Almonds exhibit between 20 to 25g of protein per 100g. Like legumes, almonds are notably poor in methionine and lysine, however, almond protein is considered to be highly digestible. [3] Whole sunflower seeds exhibit 10 to 27g of protein per 100g, while the dehulled seed holds a higher amount of 20 to 40g of protein per 100g. [4] [5] Compared to other vegetable protein sources, sunflower seeds contain low or no antinutritional factors (e.g., protease inhibitors, cyanogens, goitrogenic factors, lectins, etc). Sunflower seeds are rich in acidic and aromatic amino acids and low content in lysine and sulfur-containing amino acids, like cysteine or methionine.

Both almond protein and sunflower protein are highly water soluble, which is important for the development of ready mix protein shakes.

Pea protein is an example of a complete protein which contains all the necessary amino acids, including BCAAs, which are effective in muscle building and fast absorption. [2] This segment is expected to account for 20.3% of total market share by the end of 2025 owing to its growing popularity among vegetarian and vegan population. Furthermore, this type of products is expected to remain a favorable choice for individuals allergic to egg or dairy proteins.

The vegan protein powder to be developed can also guarantee a further point of distinction by having an antioxidant capacity superior to other products, given it is made by using plant based proteins and extracts, rich in polyphenols and antioxidant vitamins. [6]


[1] S. S. Arya, A. R. Salve, and S. Chauhan, “Peanuts as functional food: a review,” J. Food Sci. Technol., vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 31–41, 2016.
[2] “69_461.Pdf.” .
[3] S. Ahrens, M. Venkatachalam, A. M. Mistry, K. Lapsley, and S. K. Sathe, “Almond (Prunus dulcis L.) protein quality,” Plant Foods Hum. Nutr., vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 123–128, 2005.
[4] S. González-Pérez, “Sunflower Proteins,” Sunflower Chem. Prod. Process. Util., pp. 331– 393, 2015.
[5] P. Ivanova, V. Chalova, L. Koleva, and I. Pishtiyski, “Amino acid composition and solubility of proteins isolated from sunflower meal produced in Bulgaria,” Int. Food Res. J., vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 2995–3000, 2013.
[6] E. Arab-Tehrany, M. Jacquot, C. Gaiani, M. Imran, S. Desobry, and M. Linder, “Beneficial effects and oxidative stability of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids,” Trends Food Sci. Technol., vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 24–33, 2012.


Food dispersions includes emulsions such as milk, cream, sauces, etc. The main characteristic of these foods is the presence of small particles, and the consequent high interfacial area between the particles and the continuous phase. The properties of food colloids are defined by the interactions among the particles.

Food emulsions consist of an oil phase containing hydrophobic compounds and an aqueous phase containing water-soluble compounds. One phase is dispersed into the other, defined as oil-in-water emulsions or water-in-oil emulsions, dependently if water or oil are the continuous phase, respectively. Emulsions are thermodynamically unstable, and phase separation can be deaccelerated or even prevented through kinetic factors. The origin of destabilization is based on gravitational force, attractive and repulsive forces among the particles, etc.

The destabilization can then be seen by creaming, flocculation, and coalescence. In addition to these, emulsion phase inversion and Ostwald ripening are phenomena that can happen in emulsions. Creaming is a phase separation caused by the upward migration of droplets due to density difference between phases. Flocculation is the aggregation of droplets due attractive forces. Coalescence is the merging of droplets.

The dispersion of water in oil for the production of mayonnaise is one of the most known examples of food emulsions.

Stokes Law and phase stability

Even in apparently stable systems, with a shelf life of several years, the number and size of droplets change with time. Stokes’ Law gives the creaming / sedimentation rate for an isolated, rigid, uncharged droplet: U=2/9 R2dρg/η. R stands for the radius, dρ for the density difference, g for gravity and η for viscosity. Creaming may be considered as negligible compared with Brownian motion when U is less than 1 mm/day. Stokes’ Law shows how to prevent or minimize creaming: i) Reduction of droplet size, for instance by the addition of considerable amounts of amphiphiles such as surfactants, or by the use of homogenizers at high operating pressure. ii) Reduction of density differences between the phases. Density difference between the oil phase and water phase is, depending on other factors, about 50 kgm-3. While the density of large droplets is similar to the oil phase, very small droplets have a density closer to that of the aqueous phase. iii) Tuning the viscosity of the continuous phase, by adding polymeric thickeners, for instance gums. iv) in the moon.


In the present demanding market, where a constant search for foods with high benefit-quality ratio is increasingly taking place, the innovation possibilities often lie in the most common and versatile everyday foods, such as the egg.

Used in almost every aspect of the gastronomy, from confectionery to soups, an egg is an important ally for all chefs and kitchen households. An egg alone is one of the most nutritious and appreciated foods on the planet. It is a high protein and low carb intake food, excellent for those who want a simple, easy and healthy snack, such as the common hard-boiled version. In fact, a whole egg contains a relevant amount of several important vitamins and minerals.

The nutritious egg – the forgotten superfood?

Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat. According to the reference daily intake (RDI) nutrient values for a healthy adult, a large egg has vitamin A (19% RDI), responsible for immune system and good vision maintenance and a set of B vitamins, such as riboflavin (42% RDI), pantothenic acid (28% RDI), pyridoxine (9% RDI), folate (11% RDI) and cobalamin (46% RDI), essential for cell division processes and mental health.

Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D (15% RDI), essential for strong bones and muscles, as well as overall health. In fact, the majority of the egg’s vitamins and minerals are located within the yolk. Vitamin E, iron, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids are also found in relevant concentrations in the egg.

The high quality proteins of the egg, essentially albumins, mucoproteins and globulins, contain a set of essential amino-acids like leucine, tryptophan, methionine and other non-essential aminoacids, which will act as precursor molecules in human metabolism. It is also noteworthy the high concentration of choline (60% RDI), an essential vitamin-like nutrient involved in the metabolism of molecules necessary for good neural-muscle function and its control in humans. For muscle building and fitness athletes the ingestion of these nutrients is of extreme importance for cell regeneration and muscle growth.

Cholesterol is perhaps the most controversial nutrient in the egg, one large egg containing more than two thirds of the RDI for this nutrient, currently set at 300 mg. However, several recent studies showed that there is no significant correlation between the egg’s cholesterol and an increase of blood harmful LDL cholesterol levels in healthy humans. The ingestion of one whole egg a day, preferably hard-boiled, is recurrently suggested by nutritionists and medical specialists as an important incorporation in one’s diet.

One whole egg contains an impressive set of nutrients in quite relevant concentrations.

The egg market

From over the 75 million tons of eggs produced worldwide, the Asia-Pacific region represents the biggest market for egg and egg products, being India, Indonesia, Japan and China the key players due to its population and economic growth over the last decades. China alone is responsible for almost 40% of both worldwide production and consumption. North and Latin American regions are also important markets regarding egg products, with USA leading the charts, followed by Mexico and Brazil.

In the European context, according to the last stats of the European Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development, more than 7 million tons of eggs were produced in 2018 within the economic space, where 7 of the 28 members, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and UK, were responsible for over 80% of the total production. If the Russian and Turkey markets were to be included (European countries not in EU) the Economic European Space market would represent twice its actual numbers regarding the egg production and consumption. The Portuguese case represents a modest percentage, with only 0,1 million tons of eggs produced for consumption in the last year. Although lifestyle tendencies such as veganism or higher healthcare awareness are rising in popularity, these do not seem to be threatening the growing tendency of the egg market, especially in the Asian continent.

From farm to table

An average person consumes 180 eggs per year. The majority of these eggs (about 50%) are produced by enriched feed hens in cages followed by barn-raised hens (26%), free range hens (14%) and organic feed hens (5%). The difference between all these eggs raising hens are concerned to their diet and growth space.

Eggshell size, form and specially color are commonly associated by consumers as main characteristics for egg quality, however, this is only dependent on the hens’ breed, size and feed.

Whiter breeds tend to lay white eggs while darker ones tend to lay browner eggshells. As for the yolk, the same applies, being the hens’ diet the major factor responsible for its color. While grain-fed chickens produce pale-yellow yolks, hens fed with rich pigmented and nutritious food from insects, vegetables, fruits and grasses produce deep orange yolks. The real egg quality is given by the age of the hen and its feeding over the growing process, where older hens tend to lay thinner eggshells and shorter shelf-life eggs than younger and nutrient controlled-feed hens.

The hen’s nutrition plays the major role in the colour of the final egg yolk.

Applications beyond breakfast

From cosmetic industry to medicine, the egg components are used in a wide range of areas for remarkably different goals. Nowadays it is easy to find different forms of whole egg, yolk or egg white in retail stores, ranging from solid to concentrated, crystalized, frozen or deep-frozen states. From the yolk is extracted its oil, consisting mainly of triglycerides and other elements, such as lecithin, cholesterol, biotin and xanthopylls. This non-allergic oil becomes free from egg proteins and is therefore allowed for use in cosmetics or dermatological products for hair fall, eczemas or dermatitis. The natural pigments (xanthopylls) present in the yolk, lutein (E161b) and zeaxanthin (E161h), are also of high interest for the pharmaceutical and food industry for their attractive yellow and orange colors.

Lecithin (E322) was actually first isolated from the egg yolk in 1846 by the French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley. This product is currently in high demand due to its emulsifying, lubricant and stabilizing properties, which were commonly obtained with the use of soybean oil. However, EU legislation has been inciting the use of allergen-free natural lecithin food sources, minimizing the use of soybean. Lecithin is also a molecule used in a variety of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products due to its stabilizing capacities and choline enrichment.

Eggs are also used as ingredients for alcoholic drinks, as in the case of the famous eggnog, or as clarifying agents for superior category wines and rich broths. In the pharmaceutical sector, the egg has been used for over 70 years in the manufacturing of flu vaccines due to its concentration of albumins, mucoproteins and other globulins. The eggshells are also a valuable resource for organic agriculture as a source of natural calcium.

The numerous shapes that the egg can assume are a clear representation of its high acceptance and versatility, with verified health benefits at an affordable price.

CFER Labs is your partner in food R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Miranda, J. M. et al, (2015), Egg and Egg-Derived Foods: Effects on Human Health and Use as Functional Foods, Nutrients, vol. 7, 706-729.
Garcés-Rimon M. et al., (2015) Egg protein hydrolysates: New culinary textures, International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, vol. 3, 17-22.
Wu Jianping et al., (2014) Eggs and Egg product processing, Food Processing: Principles and Applications, published by John Wiley & Sons,  2nd edition, chapter 19, 437-455.

The way human beings feed themselves strongly influences their physical and emotional balance. Meat products are an excellent source of nutrients and are widely consumed around the world. However, these products are also susceptible to chemical and microbiological deterioration, which creates health risks.

Consumption of contaminated food and water kills 1.8 million people annually. In addition, each person is wasting an average of 150kg of food per year, also due to lack of food conservation.

Packaged meat products arrive at the consumer’s house in good food safety conditions. However, food contamination is a serious concern at the post-opening stage of the package. It is thus urgent to create more advanced solutions of food preservation, which reduce the contamination and increase the shelf-life after the package is opened.

Sliced charcuterie may have an extended shelf-life with the developed technology.

A new technology for the preservation of charcuterie

Researchers at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and Primor Charcutaria Prima developed a research project to address this problem. New surfactant and polymer systems were developed to promote longer shelf life through the incorporation of consumer safe edible coatings in the meat. Furthermore, this coating prevents the use of the protective N2/CO2 atmosphere in the packaging, which leads to the reduction of the amount of plastic volume used in the packaging, yielding a better environmental impact.

The various types of performed assays included: chemical, physical and microbiological tests to identify coatings with improved bacterial elimination, light scattering and rheology tests to identify the best suited coatings for spray application, and electron microscopy to compare the level of meat degradation with and without coating. Color, taste, texture and odor were continuously monitored throughout the project. After the laboratory tests, the best performance coatings were applied in semi-industrial environment.

This new results will make available to consumers a new generation of preservation for fresh meat products.

Adipose tissue is a vital connective tissue for all mammals. Its main role is to store energy in the form of lipids while insulating the body. It also contains a variety of crucial cells that act on the body’s immune and structural functions. Obesity is a medical condition defined by an excess of body fat. This disease increases the chances of developing conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer or depression,  decreasing the individual’s quality of life. Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide, mainly promoted by the intake of high-energy foods and low energy expenditure.

Thermogenic molecules

Some specific ingredients might contribute for one’s weight management goals with no need for extra energy expenditure or change in sedentary lifestyle. Foods such as chilli peppers, white and black pepper, ginger and cinnamon have in their composition capsaicin-like molecules, respectively piperine, gingerol and cinnamaldehyde.

Researchers found that the consumption of these food products promote the release of sympathetic-nerve mediated norepinephrine, naturally activating the brown adipose tissue thermogenesis by up-regulating the action of the uncoupling protein 1 in the mitochondria (UCP1) (Saito et. al. 2015). The UCP1 dissipates energy by oxidizing fatty acids and glucose to heat. Other ingredients, such as green tea or wasabi, also contribute to the up regulation of this protein.

Thermogenic and anti-obesity effects of capsacin-like food molecules, mediated by the release of sympathetic-nerve norepinephrine. This mechanism triggers the brown adipose tissue thermogenesis by up-regulating the action of the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in the mitochondria. in Saito et. al. 2015

The consumption of these foods and spices might not always be possible in the desired concentration by consumers with weight issues. To overcome this limitation, companies may explore the potential of a new generation of anti-obesity, naturally thermogenic food products. It has been shown that the oral ingestion of capsules with capsinoids, substances naturally present in chili peppers, increases the energy expenditure mediated by the thermogenesis located in the brown adipose tissue (Yoneshiro et. al. 2012). Edible plant and spice extracts, naturally clean-label, mostly calorie free and widely available, may thus be the shining stars of a new generation of functional products for weight management issues, proven to be their safety in the public food and health system.

  • Yoneshiro, T. et al. (2012) Non pungent capsaicin analogs (capsinoids) increase energy expenditure through the activation of brown adipose tissue in humans. Am. J.Clin.Nutr. 95, 845–850