Multi-criteria assessment platform (MCAP) for “reverse engineering” and design of plant-based meat replacers

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkAcademic


Contributing both to sustainability and consumer safety and satisfaction, following varying and conflicting stakeholder demands and market trends, is challenging. Application of “reverse engineering” and multidimensional risk-benefit approaches are needed to streamline the new product and process development (1–3). These approaches help to cope with complexities in developing product and process blueprints, by providing ex-ante insight for design parameters, product properties, and impacts. Such insights can reduce the development time, costs and new product failures. To help with this decision-making, we are developing a Multi-Criteria Assessment Platform (MCAP).

The MCAP follows a standard multicriteria decision analysis approach (4), from scenario alternatives, and criteria identification, to scoring criteria, normalization, and weighing. The MCAP integrates different criteria related to food safety (microbial and chemical), nutrition, environmental impact, economic feasibility, and consumer perception. As proof of principle, a case study on a plant-based burger was defined, using different processing methods and ingredients. Ingredient alternatives were selected based on predominant protein ingredients on the market, and included soy, wheat, pea, potato, lentil, and faba bean.

To score the criteria, a quantitative score based on several indicators in each criterium was calculated by gathering literature data and building quantitative models. The different building blocks simulate and consider the effects of processing along the food chain, from the crop or the ingredient level, to the final product. For consumer preferences, a survey was conducted, including flexitarian and vegetarian participants. Finally, normalized scores per criterium were weighted with relative importance weights. These were assigned by stakeholders and experts in the field for the different criteria and were used to rank the scenarios.

The envisioned platform enables the integration of the key criteria for food design and their quick and automated estimation, to enable informed decision making when innovating towards a more sustainable and secure food system.


1. Thomopoulos R, Baudrit C, Boukhelifa N, Boutrou R, Buche P, Guichard E, et al. Multi-Criteria Reverse Engineering for Food: Genesis and Ongoing Advances. Food Eng Rev. 2019;11(1):44–60.

2. Pires SM, Boué G, Boobis A, Eneroth H, Hoekstra J, Membré JM, et al. Risk Benefit Assessment of foods: Key findings from an international workshop. Food Res Int. 2019;116(May 2018):859–69.

3. de Ridder K, Almeida-Rivera C, Bongers P, Bruin S, Flapper SD. Multi-criteria decision making in Product-driven Process Synthesis. In 2008. p. 1021–6. Available from:

4. Sabaei D, Erkoyuncu J, Roy R. A review of multi-criteria decision making methods for enhanced maintenance delivery. Procedia CIRP. 2015;37:30–5.
Period1 Nov 20214 Nov 2021
Event title35th EFFoST International Conference 2021: Healthy Individuals, Resilient Communities, and Global Food Security
Event typeConference
LocationLausanne, SwitzerlandShow on map