How a change in consumer behaviour is driving corporate companies to extract more value from grains and oilseeds as protein alternatives.

  • 09.03.2022
  • 1:50

We are well aware that plant-based products have gained a reputation of being “alternative-protein sources” to that of animal-based products. However, a shift in consumer behaviour – sparked by environmental concerns and animal welfare – has given way for plant proteins to hold their own, not as an alternative protein option, but as the first choice in source of protein.

As consumer demand is growing, corporate companies across a variety of industries – dealing with seed oils and related products – have already introduced new technologies and plant-based ingredients, to solidify their place in the market. Innovative food companies are able to mirror the experience of eating meat to a much greater extent. However, therein lies the problem. Consumers associate plant proteins as an alternative to meat, instead of regarding plant proteins as their first source of protein. Yet, there is more value to extract from oil seed and plant proteins than them just being animal protein alternatives.

In fact, the oil seed industry has advanced to a point where the plant’s protein content can be preserved throughout the farming and production process, so as to not dilute the protein value. This means that plant is no less of a protein source than that of meat.

Why should you eat more rapeseed-based products?

The most commonly found rapeseed product is cooking oil, used in many kitchens around the world to make salad dressings or to fry foods with. Due to the product’s versatility, many consumers buy it without thinking about the health benefits associated with rapeseed-based products.

More commonly known as canola oil, rapeseed oil is naturally low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat. Not only this, it is a great source of vitamin E – an antioxidant that can aid in eye and skin health.

Rapeseed also contains an omega-3, known as alpha-linolenic acid. This provides many heart-health benefits, for example, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart attack. Rapeseed also contains omega-6, which supports overall health. Although an excess of omega-6 fats can lead to inflammation, rapeseed contains a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats at a 1:2 ratio in rapeseed oil, which experts say is an ideal balance.

You can also find vitamin K in rapeseed. Vitamin K encapsulates a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels.

Rapeseed is pretty high up in the amino acid chain, so it contributes to anti-fatigue, eases muscle soreness and prevents muscle wasting by encouraging muscle growth. These positive effects are similar to that of egg-proteins. For example, rapeseed flour can be a good vegan alternative to try.

It should be mentioned that too much of a good thing is also bad. Rapeseed products should be consumed in moderation, with a balanced diet. 

What are the environmental benefits?

Rapeseed not only holds great nutritional benefits, farming and manufacturing processes are also increasingly becoming more sustainable. Corporates in the food industry have realised that rapeseed protein is more versatile than to purely be used for animal feed or regarded as a byproduct of oil extraction.

Due to this realisation, the product in it’s organic and raw form is making its way into the everyday kitchen, while having less of an impact on the environment. After oil has been extracted from the rapeseed plant, a residual press cake is left behind – still containing high-quality protein. In addition to the plant-based protein, the remaining fibres, or “okara”, can also be dried and processed. More and more oil mills are beginning to process these press cakes because of the product’s health benefits and its potential in cutting back industry waste. 

In order to promote biodiversity and sustainability, the food industry must find local sources of plant proteins, extracted in a way that supports a circular business model that will maximise output and income for food processors and producers while reducing waste. This is exactly what we have accomplished here at NapiFeryn BioTech.

ALSEOS extracts plant proteins from rapeseed cake. Rapeseed is a bright, yellow-flowering plant grown in the EU more than anywhere else in the world. Because of its local production and the circular business model of NapiFeryn BioTech, the technology is highly sustainable. It is also very efficient and economical, moreover it has the potential to double the revenue for rapeseed processors.

As proteins play an important role in supplementing the human diet, plant-based proteins present a promising solution to our nutritional needs due to their long history of crop use and cultivation, lower cost of production, and easy access in global markets. Although many consumers are still adapting to the idea of consuming more plant proteins and less animal products, a steady change in consumer behaviour is indeed motivating corporate companies in the grain and oilseed business to extract the most possible value from a single plant – cutting down waste and supplying the market with a healthy addition to their diet.

To conclude, as we keep evolving as a society, more plant-based food will become an everyday part of our diets – to sustain our health and that of the environment’s. We can expect rapeseed-based proteins to become more freely available on the market as corporate companies.

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