SPRINT: Sustainable Polysaccharide/Protein Rich Ingredients from Natural and mild Treatments
SPRINT is a multidisciplinary public-private partnership (PPP) which aims to achieve breakthroughs in developing sustainable, multi-functional, clean label ingredients for food and pet food manufacturers from available co-products within the agri-food industry. The consortium, represented by stakeholders from across the food production chain comes together to fill the knowledge gaps between demand and supply that is application focused and functionality driven. The increasing consumer focus towards healthy, natural, clean label foods and the emphasis on implementing total use of resources are the main drivers for SPRINT.
The main innovation goal of the consortium is to create a technology toolbox for the biorefinery of co-products leading to the production of multi-functional, clean label ingredients for added value in food and pet food products. Both technological and health functionalities of co-products will be improved within SPRINT. Technological functionalities of co-products will be improved in terms of thickening, gelling, emulsifying, and water binding, among others. Health functionality of co-products such as digestive and gut health ( pre-/probiotic capacity, immune effects) and metabolic health (inhibition of ACE, DPPH4, among others) will be identified and improved. The improvements will be based on mild treatments with the focus on utilizing as much of the co-product as possible. The co-products within SPRINT includes potato pulp, peels, protein and fiber, oat flour and oat hull, and dairy co-products (milk permeate concentrate and nano-filtration retentate).
Within SPRINT, a reverse engineering approach will be used wherein the most important technological and health functionality requirements in bakery products, beverages, dairy and pet food will be the leading end use applications. SPRINT will provide the necessary infrastructure to evaluate co-products, design biorefinery, and produce clean label ingredients. It is foreseen that SPRINT will shorten time to market of multi-functional, clean label ingredients.
The increasing demands for sustainable high quality and safe foods are not always aligned. Improving sustainability within the agri-food industry requires efficient use of raw materials. However, high quality standards often lead to production losses and generation of side streams (aka co-products). Due to the strict focus on purification and isolation of specific components, and cost outweighing benefit, most co-products are underutilized. This is simply because co-products are either too dilute, or too complex or both. Therefore, in order to realize a total use concept and align the societal demands for improved sustainability while maintaining quality, health and safety of food products, biorefinery concepts and product formulation strategies must also change. SPRINT provides the framework to hasten innovation.
Some of the important technological challenges that SPRINT will focus on center on unexplored areas relating to ingredient functionality and biorefinery. Co-products often present in large diluted streams and complex matrices change their functionality upon processing. The optimization of process-functionality relationships in co-products are still largely unexplored. Furthermore, co-products are usually mixtures of biomolecules such as carbohydrates, proteins and minerals in complex matrices. Current co-product biorefineries focus on either removing one or more biomolecule from this complex matrix producing additional co-products. However, this biorefinery approach also increases production costs for highly purified ingredients derived from co-products. Meanwhile, the demand for these highly purified and highly processed ingredients are diminishing due to consumer focus on wholesome foods. Nonetheless, biorefineries which emphasize fractionation of co-products instead of isolating specific biomolecules while improving functionality and wholesomeness of consumer food products has not been given full attention. The exploration of alternative process inputs to improve sustainability of processes, functionality of co-products and added value for consumer food products has also not been fully explored. SPRINT would like to close the knowledge and technology gaps between ingredient requirements and co-product availability.
Within SPRINT, cereal co-product such as oat flour and oat bran, fruit and vegetable co-products such as apple pomace, potato peels, potato pulp and protein, dairy co-products such as milk permeate concentrate and nano-filtration retentate will be used as feedstock towards the development of health and technological functionalities required in various food and pet food application. SPRINT will focus on bakery, beverage, dairy and pet food applications. The technological functionalities that will be explored in SPRINT encompass the development of minimally processed ingredients which possess gelation, thickening, water-binding, emulsification, and foaming properties among others. Health functionalities related to gut health and metabolic bioactivity will also be explored using the aforementioned feedstock.
Urgency for the sector
To match the functionality and added-value demands of the food and pet food manufacturers and utilize the co-product supply from the agri-food industry and speed up innovation there is a need for an evaluation framework. This framework should enable food and pet food manufacturers to screen potential sources for new ingredients in an efficient and effective way and enable the agri-food industry to assess their co-products and technical solutions. To speed up the evaluation, implementation and production there is need for knowledge development and overlap on the level of food formulation and co-product biorefinery. Food formulation and co-product biorefinery will be iteratively confronted within SPRINT.
SPRINT is executed by six partners. Their aims for joining the consortium are:
1. ARLA seeks to utilize dairy co-products such as milk permeate concentrate and nano-filtration retentate in developing clean label products. Within SPRINT, Arla seeks to increase valorisation of their dairy co-products and improve their health functionalities (e.g. increase prebiotic capacity) and technical functionalities (e.g. emulsification and stabilization) for use within dairy and non-dairy products.
2. LAMB WESTON/MEIJER seeks to optimize raw material use within their potato lines. Within SPRINT, they would like to produce clean label, natural ingredients based on their potato co-products such as potato peels for application in potato based products.
3. RAISIO has a special interest in the valorisation of currently low-value grain based by-products such as oat bran and oat flour. Raisio currently aims to find new application areas with increased value for oat co-products in consumer and pet food. Raisio considers the SPRINT project and consortium as a very high potential platform to create novel processing methods in order to increase technological and/or physiological functionality of these grain based co-products.
4. AVEBE seeks to improve the health (gut health, cardiovascular and metabolic health) and technological functionalities (water binding, thickening and gelling properties) of their potato co-products such as fiber and protein rich fractions for application in value-added clean label consumer and pet food products.
5. HILL’S PET NUTRITION seeks to develop new clean label products with improved health properties (gut health) for companion animals (pets) such as cats and dogs. Furthermore, Hill’s would like to use wholesome, minimally processed ingredients with and technological functionalities (emulsification, binding, gelling properties). Within SPRINT, Hill’s would like to screen various combinations of fiber rich co-products for a wide range of gut health functionalities.
6. WFBR (Wageningen Food & Biobased Research) will strengthen their position as recognized knowledge institute able to translate novel scientific and technological developments into applicable solutions. This project specifically supports their technical and scientific position in biorefinery, total use of resources concept and clean label solutions.