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Polish biotech startup produces zero-waste rapeseed protein

15 October 2020 North-West, EIT Food Projects The FutureKitchen series explains how food technology works through Virtual Reality. 

Polish biotech startup produces zero-waste rapeseed protein

The FutureKitchen series explains how food technology works through Virtual Reality.

The EIT Food FutureKitchen infotainment series has launched a new virtual reality (VR) video on FoodUnfolded. It explains how Polish startup NapiFeryn BioTech recycles rapeseed cake, by transforming it into a fine powdered protein that can be used as a food ingredient. The video is part of an inspiring infotainment series that engages younger generations in a dialogue about food-tech and innovation.

A demand for sustainable protein

With a world population that is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, it is key to innovate our food systems to meet the growing need for food. This is especially true with regards to producing more protein, whereby global meat production has quadrupled since 1961, and is continuing to rise year on year. With meat production having negative environmental consequences, there is a need for more sustainable protein sources to be adopted. Biotech company NapiFeryn is using the plant rapeseed, which is grown across the globe, to do just this.

20% of rapeseed is high-quality protein, but it is currently mostly used as animal feed. By using this raw material directly as food for humans, NapiFeryn estimates that it would be possible to provide nutrition to an additional 3.5 billion people. As such, using rapeseed has the potential to feed our rapidly growing population.

A flexible and sustainable ingredient

NapiFeryn’s new technology enables oilseed processing companies to recycle the material remaining after pressing oil from rapeseed. All of the protein contained in rapeseed can be isolated in its natural, undamaged form, making it an alternative to other common but less sustainable protein sources, while also being a safe alternative for allergy prone individuals.

Rapeseed has one quality that previously made it difficult to prevail on the market and that is its taste is intense and bitter. NapiFeryn’s patented technology is able to purify the protein from anti-nutritional factors, removing the bitter taste, so that it forms stable emulsions with oils. Moreover, this protein has favourable organoleptic properties which means it has a neutral flavour, smell and colour. Its texture and nutritional values make it an ideal ingredient to enrich foods such as pasta, sweets, sauces, or novel food formulations.


NapiFeryn's technology has helped produced foods such as meringue 

These qualities are good incentives for oilseed processing companies to adapt the new technology in their businesses. The company’s CEO Magdalena Koz┼éowska expects that rapeseed protein will be available for their customers as early as 2022.

“We need this time to adapt the technological process to meet industrial requirements. Then, our customers will be able to broaden the range of their products and simply by using a crop that is locally grown. We currently have pre-commercial samples available for the Early Market Adopters and look forward to seeing our customers use rapeseed in years to come.”

How does the technology work?

This video by EIT Food’s FutureKitchen Project demonstrates how rapeseed can be used as a sustainable protein source.

The Virtual Reality video provides a 360° view on how this technology works, from the rapeseed field to the laboratory to the end product. Using virtual reality helps to capture the entire process of the transformation of rapeseed to food ingredient, which appeals to consumers who want to know more about how their food is produced.

Infotainment on food tech inspires young people

Matis engaged with young people at 2019's Reading Town Meal event in the UK

The FutureKitchen series encourages and inspires a connection with our food systems and increases consumer trust by displaying real 360 degree footage on how food science, technology and innovation can advance sustainability. All videos are developed in a co-creation process, together with academia, startups, and industry partners to create an insightful and impactful food story.

Also, VR can adapt to diverse learning styles and has higher retention rates than traditional learning. In this way, the project targets young people, to engage them in a conversation via an entertaining learning experience and inspires them to reflect on our food systems or even consider careers in food tech or food science.

New ways of engagement in 2020

In light of the Covid-19 Pandemic, FutureKitchen is organising small local events as well as online events, focus groups and interactive webinars to promote the content and initiate a conversation.

For example, project lead Matís organised ‘FutureKitchen at your doorstep’ in Iceland. Consumers had the opportunity to watch FutureKitchen videos using cardboard VR goggles to learn more about how different food production technologies work behind the scenes. For this audience the video on an Icelandic carbon negative indoor algae farm and the world's first organic insect farm in Switzerland were especially interesting.

Consumers enjoyed how the videos captured how food is produced in a real life setting, without having to physically be there themselves.

“You really get the sense of the source of the food by walking around the place it was produced” -FutureKitchen participant

Watching Virtual Reality is immersive

Virtual reality can be experienced through smartphones or even cardboard VR goggles

Watching a 360 degree videos provide the audience with a real sense of interaction and immersion that cannot be achieved through standard video. Not only that but watching 360 videos does not have to be only for those who have expensive VR googles. Project Manager of FutureKitchen at Matis, Justine Vanhalst, explains that there are different ways to experience virtual reality.

“Even if someone does not own expensive VR goggles, they can experience VR on their smartphone or via inexpensive cardboard VR goggles. It’s easier than people think!” 

Learn more about FutureKitchen

The consortium is led by the food innovation and biotech company Matís in Iceland, and includes a variety of EIT Food partners and startups. These are EUFIC, IMDEA Food Institute, Döhler, University of Cambridge, as well as innovative and progressive food related companies such as NapiFeryn BioTech, Essento, 3FBio, Vaxa, Natural Machines, and Alberts.

The series continues with alternative proteins and other topics. This includes EIT Food RisingFoodStar 3FBio, who are producing a zero-waste mycoprotein to help meet the demand for global sustainable protein. Stay tuned and learn more about the FutureKitchen series on FoodUnfolded and share using the #FutureKitchen hashtag.

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