In the EGGcited project three Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands work together to accelerate the protein transition and circularity of food production. NIZO, a privately owned research centre (CRO) with expertise and facilities for the development and upscaling of new food products and ingredients, is project leader of the project.
In this project NIZO works together with start-up company FUMI Ingredients, a spin-off of Wageningen University and the inventor of the technology for the extraction of functional proteins from BSY, and with Ruitenberg Ingredients, a family-owned company discovering creative and innovative solutions for the food industry and as launching customer can accelerate market introduction. The three companies work closely together with beer brewery AB InBev, which supplies the raw materials. Also after the execution of the project, the parties will collaborate within the ecosystem on innovation, new business models, other micro-organisms and production. This will create a permanent ecosystem of companies and research centres in the field of sustainable proteins in the eastern part of the Netherlands.
Our current food production system is not in accordance yet with the Transition Agenda Circular Economy (2018) to decrease the carbon footprint of proteins produced in the Netherlands by 50% in 2050. Optimal use of biomass and side streams towards circular, bio-based food products and transition from animal proteins towards more sustainable protein sources are two essential routes to reach that target. The project EEGcited combines both routes and thereby contributes considerably to the intended CO2 reduction.
Ingredients of animal origin, such as meat, milk and eggs are the main sources of protein used in the food industry. However, the production of animal proteins is not sustainable. Due to need of more sustainable production, the global demand for vegan alternatives for egg and dairy is growing exponentially. However, many manufacturers find it difficult to produce plant proteins with the specific properties of animal proteins. Due to their functionality, the proteins from BSY offer great opportunities as egg and milk protein replacers.
BSY contains high levels of nutritional and functional components. Currently, the yeast is only used in feed. Valorisation of this “rest material” with innovative technology can deliver valuable ingredients with excellent functional properties, enabling the switch to animal-free proteins.
Corjan van den Berg, CEO FUMI Ingredients: “In previous years the technology to extract functional proteins form BSY has been developed by FUMI Ingredients at lab-scale (proof-of-concept). In the EGGcited project, the technology will be further developed and up-scaled to large pilot scale. The resulting protein production will have a significant lower CO2-foot print as compared to production of egg protein or milk protein. By extracting protein from a side stream of the breweries, the use of raw material will decrease, which contributes to the circularity of the human food production. The process will be developed for BSY, but it can also be applied to other types of biomass (algae, bacteria, etc)”.
The parties in the consortium cover the whole innovation funnel. Gisella Frijlink, CEO NIZO: “By their collaboration, they can develop new ingredients and start commercial production of these sustainable and functional proteins after execution of the project. It will accelerate innovation in the field of sustainable food production. It also fits well with the ambitions of EFRO and the province of Gelderland that more SMEs generate more revenue from innovative products. Furthermore, this project contributes to the ambition of Food Valley regarding strengthening the innovation ecosystem and the national strategy in the Netherlands regarding the protein transition”.