PLANTCURD – Functional plant proteins for cheese curd

There is an ever-increasing focus on producing food in a more sustainable fashion, and milk-based products have been identified as a focus area due to their contribution to green-house gas emissions. However, most of the plant-based “cheese” products today have a huge quality and taste trade-off compared to conventional dairy cheeses. Current offerings have a low appeal to the general consumer. In addition, nutritionally the products are very poor when compared to dairy cheese. The aim of this project is to develop “cheese” analogues with functionalities matching ordinary cheeses.

By: Grith Mortensen

Plant proteins are poorly functional due to their low solubility when compared to dairy proteins. In particular, plant proteins have very high molecular weights (>300 kDa) and tend to interact hydrophobicly with each other rather than with water. Cheese is not as easy to mimic as other dairy alternatives (e.g. plant based “yoghurts”), and thus requires a more technically advanced approach than what is currently applied.

The objective of this project is to enable production of plant-based curds with diverse cheese-like functionalities as well as “cheeses” based on both plant and dairy ingredients. The starting point will be a combination of processing technology and biotechnology expertise. Plant proteins will be limited to those which can be grown efficiently in Denmark (i.e. grass, peas, lupines, hemp, rapeseed, linseed, faba beans and lentils). Experimental approaches will consist of basic protein characterization, functional analysis, cheese trials and product analysis. The plant “cheeses” will be benchmarked against cheeses produced from milk. Furthermore, hybrid cheeses consisting of mixtures of plant and dairy proteins will also be developed.

The project will equip the Danish dairy industry with the technical solutions and knowledge to adapt quickly to an ever-changing market.

Project period: January 2022 - December 2024

Budget: 5,508,336 DKK

Financing: Milk Levy Fund, Arla Foods, University of Copenhagen

Project manager: Poul Erik Jensen

Institution: Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen

Participants: Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen and Arla Foods


Publications and presentations

Initial article published in Mælkeritidende:

Mælkeritidende 2023 No. 1


The results originating from the project will be published on this page when they become publicly available.

Grith Mælk 1

Grith Mortensen

Chefkonsulent, Branchesekretariat mejeri, Landbrug & Fødevarer/Skejby

Mobil: 40964114