To make sure we meet the growing demand for protein and help sustain the planet, we turn to sources alternative to meat and analyze the potential of agricultural by-products. One of them is rapeseed press cake – the material left over after pressing oil from rapeseed. Despite its nutritional value and high protein content, it has so far only been used as animal feed. At NapiFeryn we managed to upcycle this waste into protein, which is now used in EIT Food’s VALOCAKE project, focusing on turning it into functional food ingredients and food products.
Proteins are the necessary ingredient in human diet. And when they come from plants, they can be produced without all the detrimental effects associated with the livestock industry. However, to make sure people around the world get enough protein to live a healthy live, we need to look past meat or any current sources of plant-based protein (like soy). Because it will simply not be enough to feed the estimated 11.2 billion of people inhabiting Earth by the end of the century.
The untapped potential of rapeseed
Rapeseed, a bright-yellow flowering crop and the third largest source of vegetable oil, is a plant widely cultivated around the world. It is rich in protein and has a beneficial composition of amino acids.
It also contains phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants) which could have beneficial effects on health. It is currently the main oleaginous plant of Europe and production is on a rise.
Press cake, the material left over after pressing oil pressing from rapeseed, has been known for its nutritional properties, but until now has served only as animal feed.
Turning waste into protein
One of the reasons the protein reach rapeseed press cake has not been used for human consumption was its bitter taste. Additionally, there was no technology capable of extracting protein from oilseeds with sufficient quality and yield to make the process economically viable.
We were able to solve both issues.
Now, the protein isolate and protein-fibre concentrate, obtained with NapiFeryn BioTech’s technology, are being used in the VALOCAKE project.
Turning upcycled ingredient into tasty food
VALOCAKE focuses on valorisation of the rapeseed press cake into functional food ingredients and food products. One of the goals of the project is to support the transition to sustainable bioeconomy which utilises side streams (or by-products) generated in the agriculture and food chain – just like rapeseed press cake – as food or other valuable commodities.
Rapeseed press cake has the potential to be a sustainable source of valuable proteins, dietary fibre, and bioactive compounds for human nutrition. VALOCAKE adopts clean processes such as fermentation, to upgrade the rapeseed press cake-derived protein and protein-fibre powders into functional food ingredients and tasty food products in bakery, patisserie and meat substitutes categories.
NapiFeryn is in this project with 5 other partners: VTT, University of Helsinki, DIL, TUM and Puratos.