Enormous quantities of high value proteins in the agro-food industry are wasted because it is infeasible to isolate them in a native and functional form. Such proteins are already inside a production environment, diluted in process streams arising from the manufacture of starch, ethanol, vegetable oils, fruit juices, fish and other animal by-products, emerging biorefineries etc. These proteins are, however, out of reach for conventional methods such as membrane filtration, precipitation, and drying due to technical and/or process cost issues.
An important mission of our company is to provide the tools for isolation of plant proteins at a quality and cost that will enable a more sustainable utilization directly as ingredients for human consumption.
More than 80 % of the world's total agricultural production of protein is fed to animals for the provision of animal proteins (D. Chéreau et al.: OCL 2016, 23(4) D406) and the weighted average conversion ratio is 4.9 (see figure below). Thus, in average, feeding livestock with ~5 kg of plant protein results in only one kg protein.
The figure shows how many kilos of plant protein result in one kilo of animal protein.
Novel separation technologies, like Controlled Affinity Separation (CAS), have the potential of mobilizing the vast plant protein resources and thus create the basis for enrichment, supplementation and substitution of the animal derived proteins.
Likewise, these natural resources contain vast amounts of highly active enzymes that could find applications within the food and beverage industry as an alternative to the industrial enzymes which generally are produced using genetically modified microorganisms. CAS offers an alternative by virtue of the highly selective and cost effective protein separation this methodology offers.
Equally, CAS will enable a more efficient and higher value utilization of already existing animal protein sources, which currently are being separated into bulk protein preparations. This may be achieved through the isolation of individual protein components of the animal derived raw materials. Such individual protein components each represent a unique functional property or bioactivity that would otherwise be lost or underutilized in a commodity bulk product.
The world population is growing at a fast rate and is predicted to reach 9 billion people in a few decades. It will be a huge challenge to feed all these people without intensifying the overall environmental impact.
Upgrading proteins from waste and e.g. fertilizers and animal feed will result in more proteins for human consumption and a reduction of the environmental burden.