The growth of the world population and a rising standard of living has led industry and academics to explore new and alternative sources of protein and to improve the circularity and sustainability of the protein supply chain. This includes the processing and valorization of protein-containing side streams. In order to better valorize these streams in animal feeds, both digestibility and solubility of protein in side streams need to be improved. Partners of the Protein Competence Centre (PCC) – NIZO, HH University of Applied Sciences, VHL University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Duynie Group and VanDrie Group – started a public-private cooperation to improve the digestibility and solubility of protein in protein-containing, plant-based side streams for feed applications.

The coming two years, the researchers will investigate and develop strategies to improve the bioavailability (digestibility) of the protein present of protein-containing, plant-based side streams. To achieve this, the research team has to overcome intrinsic shortcomings of proteins in plant-based side streams such as a low solubility, entrapment in cell organelles and cell wall matrices, and/or low protein digestibility and nutritional value. Eventually, the developed strategies should allow partners to produce and/or use the side streams with improved digestibility in feed, leading to improved N-efficiency and a lower carbon footprint, lower costs and similar nutritional quality compared to more traditional protein rich ingredients for animal diets. This project therefore contributes to LNV and TKI’s circular agriculture mission, aiming to completely valorise all waste streams and side streams in the Dutch agri-food / horticulture system by 2050.

To achieve these goals, NIZO, HH, VHL, and WUR will explore mild or minimal processing of the side streams, including the use of enzymes, extrusion and mild mechanical shear. Liberating protein and increasing protein content is expected to increase the digestibility and nutritional value of these products. Duynie Group and VanDrie Group contribute to the knowledge platform by sharing specific expertise in their respective market segment, supply of protein-containing, plant-based side streams and by performing evaluation studies.

This project receives financial support from ‘Topsector Agri & Food. Within the Topsector, the industry, universities and government are working together to explore innovations for safe and healthy food for 9 billion people in a resilient world.

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