Unleashing the potential of rapeseed press cake as a protein source for food

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There is a global challenge to ensure sufficient amount of proteins to feed future generations while utilizing natural resources sustainably. Rapeseed press cake, a byproduct of oil pressing industry, has a high potential as a sustainable source of valuable proteins, dietary fibre and bioactive compounds in our nutrition. VTT has led a project consortium focusing on the valorization of rapeseed press cake into functional food ingredients and food products. 

Protein is the most challenging macronutrient when it comes to sustainable production. Currently, animal-origin products are still the main protein and food ingredient sources. Unfortunately, the livestock industry is one of the most significant contributor to the acute environmental problems such as global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Efficient use of raw materials and utilization of side-streams is crucial in the transition towards a sustainable bioeconomy. 

Rapeseed press cake is one of the major agricultural residues with annual production quantity reaching 49 million tonnes globally. The protein content of rapeseed press cake is as high as 30 - 40%. This means that annually about 18 million tonnes of good quality protein is being discarded. In addition to protein, rapeseed press cake is a good source of dietary fibre. However, as such it is not suitable for direct human consumption because it contains anti-nutritional compounds and an unpleasant and bitter flavour.

The scientists in the VALOCAKE project targeted to develop new protein ingredients that meet the functional demands needed in bakery, patisserie and meat alternative products as well as consumers’ increasing demand for more plant-based proteins and fibre in their diets. 

During the project, enzymes and microbial fermentation approaches were used to improve the performance and applicability of rapeseed protein ingredients to achieve better taste, good baking performance and structural properties. The project also widened the applicability of rapeseed proteins in high-moisture extrusion to develop next generation meat alternatives.

The VALOCAKE - Valorization of rapeseed press cake as multi-functional, tasty food ingredients project was coordinated by VTT. Project partners: University of Helsinki (Finland), Technical University Munich (Germany), DIL German Institute of Food Technologies (Germany), Puratos NV (Belgium) and NapiFeryn BioTech (Poland). 

Total budget of the project was EUR 760 000 of which EIT Food’s part was EUR 530 000. 

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