Newly- formed Dutch firm Solanic witnesses 'phenomenal response' to its potato protein portfolio, confirming growing market demand from food makers for vegetable-derived proteins as rising raw material costs continue to bite and the galloping health trend brings added appeal to clean label ingredients.
Fully-owned by Dutch potato co-operative Avebe, Solanic geared up for production of its potato proteins at the beginning of 2008, when the doors opened on its first full-scale factory to manufacture the potato proteins. "Full scale production currently translates at between 1000 and 2000 tonnes of potato protein," a spokesman for Solanic told FoodNavigator.com. However, the plan is to ultimately remove protein from all of Avebe's potato harvest, representing over 40,000 tonnes of potato, he added. According to the spokesman, 100 kilos of potato gives 1.5 kilos of protein and approximately 18 to 20 kilos of starch. Food makers are driving an emerging market for alternatives to animal proteins - that proffer comparable functional and nutritional criteria - as consumers push the supply chain for clean label, natural ingredients. Solanic has launched its portfolio of eight products onto the market to capture a slice of this revenue. Historically, Avebe produced starch from potatoes; while the proteins, part of the waste stream, were sold-off for low-value animal feed. But a new technological process that makes these very same proteins fit for human consumption has in turn, unlocked a new, far higher value market, for the Dutch co-operative. "At the FiE in November last year we went big time with our potato proteins…and the response was quite amazing," said the Solanic spokesman. The firm is currently working with manufacturers that span the food industry, to include the meat, dairy, beverage, bakery, convenience and frozen food sectors. And a key challenge is developing the new applications that meet the needs of the makers. Replacing ingredients for the food makers is probably about a 12 month process, while the timeline for the development of brand new products that use the potato protein is longer, says Solanic. According to the firm, in terms of performance, the amino acid composition is extremely good, comparable to the top dairy proteins such as whey: and significantly better than other vegetable proteins, like soy, wheat gluten, pea, they claim.
In addition, in terms of solubility, while certain vegetable proteins need to be hydrolysed in order to render them soluble, the potato protein can be used in its native state and requires no additional processing