Transformation of Plant Protein Processing Waste into High Value Health Promoting Food Ingredients
Due to industry and consumer demands, plant protein production in Australia and more broadly has increased rapidly in recent years, and it is projected to grow even further over the next decade. The main feedstock used in the Australian plant protein production is pulses (e.g., faba, pea and mung bean). However, pulses only contain 25-30% protein, a large proportion is non-protein components (starch and fibre). Therefore, ~3kg dry waste (mostly starch [75%] and fibre) is generated for 1kg of protein.
Currently Australia produces 5,000 tonnes/year of pulse protein, generating ~30,000 tonnes waste (~15,000 ton of dry matter; ~15,000 tonnes of water). This waste currently goes to landfill or is used as animal feed. If this waste is processed, then 10,000 tonnes of dry pulse starch with a wholesale value of ~$AUD10M can be produced.
Global demand for plant proteins is high, and in response Australian pulse protein production is projected to increase to 25,000 ton/year in ~2-3 years resulting in 150,000 tonnes waste/year. Global growth in demand for plant protein is seen to be a long-term market trend and hence its related waste will grow as the Australian pulse production has the capacity to support higher plant protein production.
Together Microtec Engineering Group, RMIT and Fight Food Waste CRC will develop processes that recover starch and pulse fibre from plant protein production waste and transform them into premium products through physical and other approved/green technologies for food and non-food applications.
These processes will give carbohydrate products whose granular and molecular structures are altered, unique functional properties that meet market opportunities.
Process optimisation for starch and fibre recovery from plant protein waste may also result in increasing the protein extraction rate. This is because within existing plant protein manufacturing, significant amounts of pulse protein are lost with the waste fraction.
This project has four primary outcomes:
- Main processing conditions for extraction of premium quality starch and pulse fibre from plant protein waste (i.e., selected waste of plant protein production from faba bean, pea and mung bean) determined.
- Three green/synthetic chemical free strategies will be investigated, and the main processing parameters will be determined to develop soluble and insoluble dietary fibres with high resistant starches
- Process conditions of selected minimally modified special purpose starches suitable for bakery and dairy products will be determined
- Cold swelling, microporous and/or instant minimally modified special purpose starches will be prepared and the main parameters influencing their functional properties will be determined.
Plant protein producers are among the first who can benefit from this technology, by not only reducing the generated waste of their plants but generating significate income. This technology also helps starch and modified starches producers to convert their starches to high- health-promoting foods ingredients which can add great value to their existing products.
April 2022 – March 2025