“Sharing learning outcomes with our competitors”

Working in a non-competitive setting was new for BEL Group, when joining TiFN, in 2011. But they immediately saw the value in exchanging knowledge and ideas, and in developing projects from a shared vision, says Research Director Cécile Renault. 

“We were already engaged in sustainable sourcing with our own Corporate Social Responsibility programme. TiFN’s Sustainable ingredients project (2018–2022), takes us another step forward with its unique integrated approach, which investigates every aspect of animal/plant protein replacement, from nutritional value to functional quality and processing. We expect the project outcomes will help us to evaluate whether peas and rapeseed are feasible sources, how much to invest in adapting production processes, and how to optimize protein texture for application in products.

Trust and openness
Sustainable ingredients is our third collaborative project, following Food structuring (2011–2015) and Smooth bite for all (2015–2019). We remain impressed by the trust and openness between partners, and I believe the TiFN project leaders drive this. They have a helicopter view of the research, create a positive atmosphere and facilitate open-minded, high-level discussions.

Investing time
Being involved in TiFN only works when you are committed, from the beginning, to investing time in valorising and implementing insights. We placed two BEL experts in the projects to gather insights and ideas for our in-house R&D activities and to discuss how knowledge valorisation might be better facilitated. For example, by defining research guidelines tailored to a partner’s lab situation, or by attracting ingredient suppliers to the project.

This collaboration feels very rewarding and elicits an abundance of positive energy. I am sure more projects will follow.”

Cécile Renault: Research Director, the BEL Group.