Dutch sugar beet processor, Suiker Unie, has officially put its Green Protein Demo Plant into operation, producing protein from sugar beet foliage.
Green plant leaves contain between 1% and 3% protein. A new process developed and patented by TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, makes it possible to extract the protein.
Royal Cosun, Suiker Unie’s parent company, has obtained the exclusive licence to use the patent.
The Green Protein Demo Plant will extract protein from sugar beet foliage, and later also from other plant leaves. Every hectare of sugar beet produces between 20 and 30 tonnes of leaves. This amount of foliage is good for between 180 and 280 kg of high quality protein.
“A dark green juice is extracted from the leaves that we can refine and dry in a series of steps to produce a colourless, flavourless and odourless protein powder,” says Paulus Kosters, Senior Protein Programme Manager at Cosun.
“The food industry can use this functional plant protein in countless applications, including meat substitutes, cakes, meringues, beverages, sauces and desserts.
“Our ambition now that the demo plant is up and running is to take the first large-scale production line into operation by 2022.”
The first 100 kg of protein will be produced this year, Suiker Unie said.