The Crespel & Deiters Group is one of the leading wheat processing companies in Europe. Philipp Deiters is the sixth generation to join the family business, and is responsible for product management and R&D. His personal business motivation? Finding answers to the question of how best the food industry can feed 9 billion people by 2050.
Starch Europe asked him about the key role that starch and other wheat derivatives can play, now and in the future.
Why are plant-based ingredients gaining in importance?
Philipp Deiters: One of the greatest challenges of our time is feeding the ever-growing world population. However, there is no simple solution to this, as the situation is both complex and multi-layered.
A starting point is the more efficient use of natural raw materials. Reducing food waste is, therefore, an obvious and logical step. Here, starch products e. g. based on wheat can play a big part, as they help extend the shelf-life of food.
Another key consideration is the need to significantly reduce meat and fish consumption for sustainability reasons. So how would the global population obtain the essential macronutrient protein, if not through meat? Again, plant-based ingredients perfectly fit the bill thanks to their complex composition.
Plant-based proteins are a huge trend, but can they be considered sustainable in the long term?
Whether plant-based products e. g. wheat proteins are sustainable depends mainly on their ingredients and origin. As soon as the ingredients for their production are imported, their ecological and social balance sheet becomes more complicated. Basically, the shorter the list of ingredients and the shorter the transport route, the better the ecological footprint.
The majority of the ingredients that our food brand Loryma has in its portfolio help optimise the production of meat and fish alternatives. All of them are based on non-GMO wheat grown in the EU and are transported short distances. The R&D team works on new combinations of wheat starches, proteins and functional blends to enable manufacturers to produce applications with ideal sensory properties – making plant-based products a real and convincing alternative.
What does “functional” mean in the context of wheat ingredients?
Many of our ingredients have ‘functional’ added value because they not only contribute to a balanced nutritional profile of the end product, but also improve texture and appearance, and in some cases even bring process advantages. The functionality of our concepts often results from the combination of binding properties of the starchy components and textured wheat proteins. Innovative extrusion process technology gives a fibrous, meat-like structure that perfectly replicates the original texture of e.g. bratwurst, bacon and schnitzel etc.
Pet food can also be optimised in numerous ways through the use of plant-based ingredients: Pet owners want variety and top-quality products for their animals, just as they do for their own food. Starch-based wheat ingredients not only bind wet food and gravies, making them attractive for our four-legged friends, but also allow for the meat content to be significantly reduced. Studies have also shown that vegan pet food is well accepted by animals, and helps significantly reduce the ecological footprint. Here, it is worth noting that there are about 141 million cats and dogs in the EU, and an average domestic dog emits an incredible 8.2 tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime. Pet food is responsible for 90% of this environmental impact, largely because of meat-rich diets.
In our processing procedure, the wheat grain is first broken down into separate components. These are processed by us with a yield of 99% for use in various branches of industry. A portion is used for technical applications such as wheat-based, high-performance adhesives for corrugated board production, while the majority are used in the food and animal feed industries.
The use of available plant-based ingredients ultimately opens up a multitude of possibilities that contribute to the conservation of land and resources, while still serving human nutrition in a comprehensive and satisfactory way.