Agritech R&D business B-Hive Innovations is striving to lead the way in crop valorisation after developing a new process that will extract food-grade functional protein from potatoes.
Following extensive research, its extraction process will be put into practice at a new £6m protein plant facility, where construction started last week at national potato supplier Branston’s headquarters in Lincolnshire. The commercial factory will include bespoke technologies and capabilities to meet the growing demand for UK-grown, plant-based food ingredients.
B-Hive will work alongside Branston to deliver the facility as part of a collaborative project to improve potato crop utilisation. The factory will be the first of its kind in the UK converting humble potatoes into clean-label functional protein, which has applications in vegetarian and vegan foods. A starch-based co-product will also be generated, with the potential to create a range of applications.
Alison Wright, R&D project manager at B-Hive Innovations, said: “We established the process following years of research resulting in gentle extraction of food-grade functional protein that is free from allergens. Our work has been made possible by the support of collaborative partners and funding from Innovate UK, which we are incredibly grateful for.
“Consumers are aware of the healthy fibre and starch content in potatoes, but they don’t always consider the protein fraction. Market research revealed there was a growing demand for UK-grown, clean-label, 100% plant-based ingredients, highlighting a commercial need that fitted perfectly with Branston’s drive to utilise all harvested crop.”
Innovate UK helps business develop new products, services and processes that they need to grow through innovation. Their drive towards net-zero provides funding opportunities in multiple areas including transforming food production and improving agricultural supply-chains.
Vidyanath (Vee) Gururajan, Managing Director at B-Hive Innovations, said: “We’re delighted to have developed a process to support sustainability and crop utilisation for the potato industry. We are very grateful to the Innovate UK funding during the initial stages of the project and the partners who have continued to work with us in scaling up this project from concept to commercialisation.”