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Biorefineries for the valorisation of macroalgal residual biomass and legume processing by-products to obtain new protein value chains for high-value food and feed applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ALEHOOP (Biorefineries for the valorisation of macroalgal residual biomass and legume processing by-products to obtain new protein value chains for high-value food and feed applications)

Período documentado: 2020-06-01 hasta 2021-11-30

The ALEHOOP project provides the demonstration at pilot scale of both SUSTAINABLE MACROALGAE and LEGUME-BASED BIOREFINERIES for the recovery of LOW-COST DIETARY PROTEINS from alga-based and plant residual biomass and their validation to meet market requirements of consumers and industry in the FOOD AND FEED SECTORS. In these sectors, consumers are demanding affordable functional natural proteins from alternative sources and industry is demanding low-cost bio-based protein formulations with better performance and higher sustainability.

Proteins and amino acids are the building blocks of life, playing a critical biological role in living organisms due to their nutritional and physiological properties. In addition to their biofunctionality, proteins also play important roles in foods affecting their appearance, texture and stability because of technofunctional properties such as solubility, viscosity, foaming, emulsification and gelation properties. Population growth and socio-economic changes such as rising incomes, increased urbanisation and aging populations have led to an increasing demand for proteins. Current protein demand for the 7.3 billion inhabitants of the world is approximately 202 million (M) tonnes (t) . 58 % of the protein eaten worldwide actually comes from plant sources such as soy, cereals and potatoes, with the rest coming from meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Due to the rise in meat consumption more proteins are also required for animal feeding. To satisfy the current protein demand, Europe imports over 30 Mt of soy from the Americas each year mainly for animal feeding, entailing 95% dependency of EU on imported soy . Current sources of proteins are becoming unsustainable from an economic and environmental perspective for Europe resulting in concerns for sustainability and food security and leading to search for new alternative proteins. ALEHOOP addresses the obtaining of proteins from green macroalgal blooms, brown seaweed by-products from algae processors and legume processing by-products (peas, lupines, beans and lentils) as alternative protein sources for animal feeding (case of green seaweed) and food applications (case of brown seaweed and legume by-products), since they are low cost and under-exploited biomass that do not compete with traditional food crops for space and resources. Adding protein substitutes for traditional protein sources is a strategy that many big food brands are considering and this is a good business opportunity for products developed in ALEHOOP to enter the market. The global alternative protein market accounted for $ 8.26 billion in 2017 and is expected to witness a CAGR of 7.4% during 2018-2023 . The growing heath concern, nutritional awareness and weight management are leading the market demand for alternative proteins.

The aim of ALEHOOP is to develop and validate new bio-based specialty ingredients, in particular biofunctional and technological proteins, from green algal blooms and legume and brown processing by-products for high-end markets. ALEHOOP will allow developing more sustainable and affordable protein supply chains through the obtaining and inclusion of alternative protein sources from terrestrial and aquatic origin into feed and food formulations to satisfy the protein deficit in EU while meeting consumer and industry requirements.
In this first stage of the project, ALEHOOP partners have focused on obtaining the required raw material (green and brown algae, legumes), guaranteeing the year-round supply of safety feedstock. Furthermore, partners have been optimising the extraction process from macroalgae and legumes. A protein extraction protocol from legume by-products has been established, and the extraction process has been up scaled (at lab scale) from 100 g of by-products to 1 kg. In addition, several extraction conditions were tested in order to optimize the yield of the extraction. The raw materials have been characterised regarding its Nutritional, Physic-chemical & Toxicological characterization. The main requirements related to the extracts for the end users were established. Thus, it was established a content of protein of at least 52%, but an attempt will be made to reach a concentration of 70-80% if possible.
The life cycle methodology to evaluate environmental, economic and social impacts of the processes has been defined. The assessment at laboratory scale has been collected and the LCA, LCC and S-LCA of the three processes have been built and data have been collected and introduced into SimaPro (LCA, S-LCA) and into the excel tools (LCC and S-LCA). Data is under revision and the results are being extracted.
In ALEHOOP, cooperation among different sectors considered in bio-based economy will be addressed building 3 new sector interconnections: between AGROFOOD SECTOR (PRIMARY FOOD PROCESSORS: legume and seaweed processors) and FUNCTIONAL PROTEIN PRODUCERS; between FUNCTIONAL PROTEIN PRODUCERS and FUNCTIONAL FOOD INDUSTRY; between FUNCTIONAL PROTEIN PRODUCERS and ANIMAL FEED PRODUCERS. This project will set the basis for 2 new bio-based value chains in the GREEN MACROALGA LINE, 6 new bio-based value chains in the BROWN MACROALGA LINE, and 6 new bio-based value chains in the LEGUME BY-PRODUCT LINE. As a consequence, the ALEHOOP proteins will be used in different application fields giving 6 products in the food/beverage sector (healthy snack bars, smoothfood, meat analogues, sports drinks, meal replacement shakes and marmalades) that meet current market requirements and 2 products in the animal feed sector.

ALEHOOP will contribute to making Europe less dependent on protein imports and enhancing competitiveness of EU livestock and poultry farming sector by using cheap European biomass sources, which are compatible with the organic food sector, and sustainable European supply chains contributing to the raw material security. Thanks to ALEHOOP part of the traditional fishmeal will be replaced by alternative proteins of aquatic origin so fish farmers will have access to cheaper and sustainable feed for farmed fish and other seafood. ALEHOOP will help to developing a sustainable aquaculture that reduces pressure on wild fish stocks while meeting the growing global demand for protein. In ALEHOOP, we are obtaining proteins from alternative sources (low price raw materials) through technologies that will enable these industries to diversify their product ranges and make higher profits.

ALEHOOP will secure jobs throughout the value chain, from primary production e.g. collecting aquatic biomass, or in process operations in biorefineries, to high-tech academic jobs in urban areas e.g. in biotechnology when designing protein processes or in the design of biorefineries. ALEHOOP is contributing to creating dynamic and competitive regional economies since ALEHOOP biorefineries will operate locally (use of local biomass) and enable growth at all European regional levels, since the biomass used is available in large quantities in Europe (durable protein supply).