Potato Protein Targets Sports Nutrition Market

Potato protein targets sports nutrition market

Dutch start-up Solanic is promoting the bioavailability and sustainability of its potato-derived protein isolates, ahead of a global launch at the Vitafoods Europe trade fair next week in Geneva.

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Managing director Michiel Puttman said its PRO GO ingredient was beginning to win the interest of sports nutrition companies, even ahead of the formal launch.

PRO GO was a vegetable protein isolate (VPI) but Puttman emphasised that it was not pea or soy protein isolates it viewed as its main competitor, but dairy-based whey protein isolates (WPI).

“We are a niche player compared to the 20,000 tonne WPI industry but we have a very sound offering based on the highly bioavailable amino acid profile of the proteins we extract from the potatoes,” he said.

He said in this way the ingredient was more similar to WPI, and the pricing structure, while dependent on the application and volume, was closer to WPI than other vegetable proteins.

The general sports market was the main target, with an emphasis on recovery after exertion.

Solanic, a subsidiary of AVEBE, said Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO) data indicated VPI production was more land and water efficient than meat or dairy protein production.

VPIs versus WPIs

In 2007, the company hosted a debate on VPIs versus WPIs. There professor Daniel Tome of AgroParisTech/INRA said that there are still some aspects of the proteins which remain to be explored – such as the extent of their low-allergen properties.

“In general, we know that cereals are limiting in the indispensable amino acid lysine and legumes are limiting in methionine and cysteine,” he said, “while animal proteins have no limiting amino acids.”

Professor Gertjan Schaafsma of Schaafsma Advisory Services said: “The origin of protein, be it vegetable or animal, is not even what matters. What counts is the quality of the protein, period.”

Most starch production uses up a lot of water and energy, and generates much waste material. But Solanic says its mild separation process reduces the water and energy needs (the latter by up to 30 per cent), and also transforms the waste product into a useful protein.

The potato juice passes though pre-treatment and absorption steps, then is divided according to molecular weight. The high molecular faction contains mainly patatine, resulting in a dry food ingredient.