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clear plastic cups of plant protein powder over extruded corn puffs.

PepsiCo R&D wants to screen plant protein ingredients and characterize plant protein dense raw materials under direct expanded extrusion conditions to help develop snack products. Total protein content and protein quality are important considerations. Application often targets at least good-source protein level (2.5-grams protein per serving) which require utilization of concentrated protein ingredients or high proportion of protein dense raw materials in the extruded product formulation. This application levels often have unpredictable and detrimental impact on the extruded product, as compared to starch-base raw material extrudates such as corn-puffs. Little is known about the transformation plant protein undergoes during the extrusion process, its glass transition, denaturalization/depolymerization and behavior/interaction with starch in forming the continuous matrix that underlays the structure of extruded puffed snacks. We would like to develop a model to understand processing of plant proteins in extrusion as we have for starch. A model that can guide us to supplement the selection from PEP’s ingredient toolboxes and maybe even design plant proteins materials to lead to successful development of extruded snack. We are looking at one stop solution for the knowledge and expertise in plant protein characterization, processing, and integration/interpretation to help us develop that model.

Solution Requirements


  • Plant/dairy protein expertise
  • Looking for expertise, testing capability and data interpretation of protein function/structure (from raw material to finished product), extrusion processing, analytical testing, sensory characterization, and modeling across all data sets vertically integrated within the same group (ideally)
  • Target outputs from collaboration:
    • to understand the molecular changes in the proteins and matrix as we process them, and how that impacts the finished product.
    • a model that guides in the application of protein into snacks/food products produced by extrusion.
    • Capability to design ingredients, protein dense raw materials formulations to accomplish extruded product targets.
  • Analytical characterization capability and/or ability to interpret in context of dried, stable food matrix, comprising techniques like the following:
    • Chemical / Compositional:
      • Fat content/profile
      • Protein Content/profile
      • Dietary Fiber
      • Ash content
      • Moisture Content
      • Starch / Sugar content/profile
    • Structural characterization
      • DSC (Protein Denaturation behavior)
      • SDS – PAGE (Protein profile in various conditions)
      • Surface Hydrophobicity
      • Size Exclusion – HPLC for molecular weight distribution
      • Zeta Potential
    • Physico-chemical:
      • RVA (Rapid Visco analysis)
      • Color
      • Particle Size Distribution
    • Functional Characterization
      • Solubility (in various pH)
      • Foaming capacity / solubility
      • Gelation (Strength / Least Gelation concentration)
      • Water holding capacity
      • Emulsification capacity & stability
      • Oil binding
      • Water binding
    • Nutritional and flavor analysis
      • Amino acid analysis
      • In vitro PDCAAS
      • Flavor analysis (headspace analysis using GC-MS and/or GC-O-MS)
      • Flavor analysis (Nonvolatile analysis using HPLC-MS)
    • Sensory Descriptive analysis
      • Raw protein ingredient
      • Finished product
    • Rheological
    • Microscopy
      • X-ray diffraction / crystallography
      • Confocal microscopy
    • Protein-starch interaction chemistry
  • Also interested in licensing of existing technology for PepsiCo (analytical, ingredient solution, processing technology)
  • Food extrusion expertise/experience, particularly direct expanded extrusion


  • Expertise/knowledge of starch in dried, stable food matrix
  • High-moisture plant protein fibration
  • Expertise in structure/function behaviors of plant proteins
  • Expertise in analytical interpretation of multiple assays/analysis


Out of Scope List

  • Plant protein texturization (with little/no starch content)
  • Plant Protein and legume flour characterization (WIP)
  • Animal protein or non-plant protein, except dairy
  • Screening of plant proteins including chickpeas as to which ones could work in direct expanded extrusion


Preferred Collaboration Types

PepsiCo is open to a range of collaboration types, but proof of concept is required.


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