Globally, agriculture urgently needs to reduce its climate and environmental impact. There are several paths towards that goal, but one of the ways is to focus on the production of sustainable protein sources. In Europe and Denmark, the focus on self-production of proteins is increasing, both regarding security of supply, but also to reduce soy imports from South America, where there is extensive deforestation and the use of problematic chemicals. Here, protein from grass is an attractive alternative.
Green leaves from grass contain protein that can be extracted by biorefining and used in animal feed and human food. AAU experts are researching methods to make green biorefining more effective, and as the industry and consumers increasingly demand sustainable, climate-friendly and plant-based food, this could become an important solution in future feed and food production.
In addition to the potential of reducing the climate impact of protein production, the Danish green biorefining industry has a great export potential. However, this requires the development of processes that can selectively extract grass protein suitable for human food and not just for animal feed.
- Until now, soy proteins have been the "golden standard" in the food industry. Therefore, we see an unmet need to understand the different functional properties of the proteins from grass in order to produce new, better and more climate-friendly foods. This is among the subjects we are investigating at Aalborg University, says Associate Professor Mette Lübeck from the Department of Chemistry and Bioscience at Aalborg University.
Right now, she is part of the GUDP project "Græs4Food", where Aalborg University together with the industrial partners Biomass Protein, GreenLab, Thise Dairy and MMS Nordic will develop a food process in a biorefinery. In the process, feed protein and fertilizer are produced at the same time.