Solanic was formed by Dutch potato starch Avebe specialist in February of this year to develop and market non-starch based ingredient from potatoes that have a higher added value. The division is part of Avebe's strategy of moving away from commodities and seek new applications and markets.
The opening of the factory means that the company can now start supplying the vegetable-based proteins to the food industry that are said to present a viable alternative to animal proteins.
Avebe spokesperson Johan Russchen told FoodNavigator.com that the first products were manufactured last week.
"We recently concluded some supply contracts and are currently speaking with a lot of promising prospects."
The capacity of the factory now is around 1000 tons of proteins per year. Solanic is considering scaling up to a maximum of around 30000 tons per year, but it would take around five years to reach this level.
Russchen said that the company has invested several million euros in the factory.
The company has developed a patented technique for obtaining different protein fractions from the residual flows from the production of starch products using an "economically viable and high-quality method".
The five products in the protein line are all said to have unique and functional properties:
- Patissionate 401P is intended for use in meringues at a level of four per cent, removing the need for eggs and delivering twice as much volume
- Promish 204P can be used in standard frankfurters and pate in place of one per cent caseinate, at a level of 0.7 per cent or 0.5 per cent respectively.
- Beverisch 303L is described as a "good amino acid" for sports and energy drinks at one percent.
- Satis-factor is said to repress feelings of hunger, and can be added to existing food products or sports drinks.
During construction of the factory the company has spent much of this year spreading the word about the benefits of the proteins, especially when pitted against the properties of animal proteins.
In May it hosted The First International Vegetable versus Animal Protein Debate in Amsterdam, which was attended by academics and industry members invited by the company.
The consensus amongst the scientists was that it does not matter so much whether protein is sourced from animals or vegetables as whether it is of sufficiently good quality and has the functional characteristics that enable it to be used in food applications.
When it comes to protein quality, there are a number of pertinent questions. These include the amino acid content, the digestibility of the amino acids, whether there are any anti-nutritional factors at play, and how the protein can help fortify amino acid patterns in weaker proteins.
The new factory was opened by the Dutch Secretary of State fro Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Gerda Vergurg.
Verberg drew attention to the green credentials of the enterprise.
"Solanic fits perfectly within the image of a biobased economy. An image of a green economy in which national and international companies use green raw materials to manufacture non-food as well as food applications."
She added that Solanic is all the more interesting since the proteins can be produced from the same hectares of potatoes that previously were used only as a source of starch.
Solanic's innovation was recognised by the judges of the FI Most Innovative Food Ingredients Awards 2007 at FIE in London in October, for which the proteins were nominated.
Avebe's slogan for its nutrition ingredients is that that should meet market needs of "health & wellness, texture & taste, natural & safe and fun".
The company has said it will also be making the proteins available to the pharmaceutical industry at a later date.