As our global population continues to grow, our food system faces environmental challenges. The global population is expected to grow by 30 percent in the next 35 years. More than ever before, this population is aware of the sustainability issues surrounding our food system, especially in relation to animal farming, and these concerns are valid – the Earth will not be able to accommodate the land needed to fill the need for protein of this growing population through animal products in the future. There now exists a large consumer base of vegetarians and flexitarians that prioritize health, wellness, animal welfare, and global sustainability. Therefore, the demand and necessity for non-meat-based proteins is at an all-time high. The plant protein market is currently dominated by the soybean plant; however, environmental and economic issues also arise with overproduction of a single type of plant-based protein source. Fortunately, there are over 30,000 other types of edible plants, and they hold untapped potential for the food industry and for our global environmental welfare.
Thanks to the environmentally and economically friendly technology ALSEOS, developed at NapiFeryn BioTech in Poland, another plant product will be able to reach its full potential and eliminate waste associated with its processing. Rapeseed is a plant previously used primarily for its canola oil, the byproducts left over from the pressing process then simply being used as animal feed. These byproducts are high in both their nutritional value and protein content, but were not previously a viable option for human consumption because of their bitter taste, as well as the absence of a technology capable of extracting their protein in an economically viable way. NapiFeryn has developed a technology that addresses both issues, making rapeseed protein an option for plant proteins used in human food products. Not only does this technology present another plant protein option for the environmentally-conscious consumer, but it also benefits local welfare, both environmentally and economically.
Europe is the largest rapeseed producer, accounting for 30% of the world’s production, and the rapeseed plant itself accounts for 63% of oilseed production. Because the vegetable oil and plant protein markets are expected to continue growing exponentially, this technology holds high potential economic benefits for countries in which rapeseed is grown on a mass scale, including France, Germany, Poland, Canada, India, Australia, and China. NapiFeryn operates on a circular business model and rapeseed is largely locally produced and sourced in Europe, meaning that the process is highly sustainable and eco-friendly. There are a myriad of environmental issues that arise as a result of meat being the main source of protein globally, including the production of greenhouse gases, water pollution from animal waste, and a considerable waste of calorific value through the use of grains as fodder – as much as 60 percent of arable land on the planet is used as pastures or plants grown to feed livestock. Animal farming as a leading source of protein is wasteful and detrimental to the environment, whereas a system in which protein is derived from a number of sources, especially local ones, promotes biodiversity and opens the door for local economic benefits and global environmental benefits. The environmental footprint created by producing and distributing food products locally is smaller as it does not require transporting products over thousands of miles, or over-farming in countries that ship their products to other countries, which leads to deforestation and de-fertilization of soil.
This technology has not only a positive impact on global economic and environmental welfare, but it also benefits rapeseed oil producers and food manufacturers. It has the potential to double the revenue for canola/rapeseed oil processors, as well as providing food manufacturers with an opportunity to broaden their ranges of offered food products. The environmentally-conscious consumer is a statistic that continues to grow, and those within the food industry may be able to capture this market if they look to the future of the food industry – a large part of this being plant-based proteins. Oilseeds in particular, which contain a high content of nutritious proteins, are expected to become the leading source of plant proteins used for human consumption. Within the oilseed industry, canola/rapeseed comes in third on a global scale, following soybean and palm, and its production has increased 89 percent in the last decade due to the growing demand for vegetable oils. As this market demand rises along with the global population, any opportunity must be taken to eliminate waste within the food industry and to fill the growing demand for alternative protein options. NapiFeryn aims to target this growing demand by providing its technology to the oil pressing industry through licensing agreements.
NapiFeryn BioTech is one of only a few companies in the world that offers technology developed for rapeseed protein production, and its capabilities are unique. NapiFeryn’s process involves the purification of rapeseed plant protein to remove its bitter taste under mild conditions that do not damage the structure of the protein. This innovative technology ensures that rapeseed proteins maintain their natural form, unlike the processes through which soy protein is obtained, which involve high basicity that causes damage to the protein structure. The plant protein derived from the ALSEOS method is absent in smell or flavor, making it an incredibly versatile and nutritious addition to a variety of food products. Through this process, NapiFeryn can obtain both Raptein™90 (high in pure protein and dissolvable) and Raptein™30 (a fibre-protein concentrate with additional nutritional benefits due to its fibrous content). Both products are functional and adaptable as additions to various food products. These products can be added to pastas, sweets, souses, beverages, or breads, and can also be used as a vegan meat alternative.
Because of the environmentally friendly process of their technology, NapiFeryn BioTech has been chosen as a beneficiary of the prestigious Horizon 2020 SME instrument Phase 2 (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) on behalf of the European Commission. Through the funding and support they have provided, NapiFeryn hopes to continue to grow and to fill the gaps within the food industry. Because of its potential to address environmental, economic, and ethical concerns, NapiFeryn’s growth will benefit European economy and take a step in the right direction towards global sustainability. Overall, this innovative technology has the potential to make a positive impact on our world, conserving the Earth’s natural resources. NapiFeryn BioTech hopes to become a technological leader, spreading the idea that these resources can and should be used to their full potential.