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Revalorisation of vegetable processing industry remnants into high-value functional proteins and other food ingredients

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GreenProtein (Revalorisation of vegetable processing industry remnants into high-value functional proteins and other food ingredients)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-12-31

The EU28 imports 77% of the protein it requires, for food or feed, representing an important vulnerability for our economy, risking our self-sufficiency and food security. GreenProtein aims at a major innovation by producing high-added value, food-grade and fully functional proteins and other ingredients, out of vegetal residues mainly from sugar beet.

The main outcome will be the valorisation of 4,000 tons of agricultural residue /yearly into a high quality dried RuBisCo powder ready to enter into food industry production chains as an alternative of the widely extended egg white preparations or whey protein. We are the first team worldwide, covering the whole food chain, to design an extraction system of functional RuBisCO. The project will design and implement specific equipment to establish a demonstration plant with capacity of 1,500 kg/hour of vegetal residue input, rendering 28 Kg of dry RuBisCO and 82 Kg of dry dietary fibre (25-30% dry matter).

The obtained protein has top valuable functionalities required in food industry, such as gelling, foaming or emulsifying. The outcomes have excellent market projection due to their application in growing consumer needs like high-protein foodstuff, vegan, halal, etc.
An important effort has been made on adapting the extraction process to a larger scale. Numerous tests have been carried out in the pilot plant to obtain the final extraction process and conditions. With this information we designed a fully operational DEMO plant. The first DEMO plant to extract functional RuBisCo from vegetable residues has been designed, built and operated during the harvesting season of 2019. Functional RuBisCo has been extracted obtaining excellent results in all tests performed.

Industry has shown a great interest for our product. First contact with future customers has been made. The ongoing market analysis shows good projections.

An novel food EFSA dossier was submitted in order to obtain the autorisation for product commercialisation.

The DEMO plant was presented to the public in an event with more than 90 attendees. All project partners took part in a project promotional video. The consortium attended more than 10 events to present the project in different EU countries. Social media and website have been continuously updated and used to engage with key stakeholders and general public.
The GreenProtein project is a frontrunner from the technical and commercial point of view. It provides a progress in the state of the art in the field of plant proteins. The project has demonstrated that the extraction of functional RuBisCo from vegetable material at DEMO scale is feasible. This achievement has important socio economic implications, being the most important:
Wider available of European protein – GreenProtein will unlock the potential of vegetable residues as protein source, decreasing the external dependency on non-EU imported proteins.
Vegetal protein – As a new source of non-animal protein, GreenProtein will contribute to reduce the environmental impacts caused by the production of animal protein.
Promotion of circular bio economy – The green discards which are used as raw material for our extraction process are currently underused biomass. Therefore, our project also contributes to put in practice the principles of circular bio economy.
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