Challenges in producing marketable products from lupin and how they were overcome
Stuart K Johnson
School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, 6102, Western Australia, Australia
Green Blueprint Pty Ltd, Perth, 6005, Western Australia, Australia
Casiana Blanca Villarino
Food Science and Nutrition Department, College of Home Economics, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, The Philippines
School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, 6102, Western Australia, Australia
Seeds of the legume lupin (Lupinus spp., Fabaceae family) were an ancient staple food in the Mediterranean and Central Americas. Currently the main production is in Western Australia, where, in rotation with cereals, the narrow-leaved lupin (L. angustifolius) is a vital nitrogen-fixing crop. Primarily an animal feed, lupin, through its high protein, high fibre and low available carbohydrate contents, its non GM status and its minimal levels of anti-nutritional factors has garnered interest as a potential mainstream food. However the uptake of lupin into the modern food system is slow due to challenges including: stringent regulatory requirements for levels of alkaloids and mycotoxins; perception of lupin as an animal feed; its highly water-binding fibre and lack of gluten forming proteins disrupting food structure (eg. leavened bread) thus limiting its level of incorporation; and its potential as an allergen. Biotechnological advancements are now being employed in breeding programs to ensure low levels of alkaloids and high mycotoxin resistance. Academic and commercial parties are promoting the high nutritional value of lupin as human food and now research is focussing on identifying unique properties of lupin to support its marketing and promotion. For example: lupin proteins have demonstrated good foaming and emulsification abilities to enable them to replace animal proteins in vegan products; product innovation has identified new milling approaches, formulations and process scenarios for maximum lupin incorporation; proteins for improvement in biomarkers for chronic diseases including poor blood glucose control, high blood pressure and bowel dysfunction; while public health has been protected in Australia through mandatory labelling of lupin as an allergen. Ongoing investment, and collaboration between industry, academia and Governments is required to complete the transformation of lupin from a niche to a mainstream food.