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Potatoes – a sustainable alternative to animal protein?

Many food products contain animal protein from eggs or milk, but new research will enable these potentiallty to be substituted by high quality protein extracted from potato. Hereby we can use this root vegetable far better and meets the strong demand for protein.

2016.05.10 | Nina Hermansen

A new project partnership aims to develop new and healthy protein ingredients based on the potato protein. Photo: Colourbox

Denmark has a large potato production and the potato starch manufacturers KMC and AKV receive on a yearly basis more than 1.2 million tonnes of potato which are mainly used for starch production in the form of potato flour.

The production of potato starch leads each year to a 10,000 tonne potato protein residue, which cannot be used in food production. This is because it contains toxins and undesirable enzyme activity – one of the effects of this is that potatoes will eventually turn brown when processed. The protein by-product is therefore currently only used for animal feed.

However, Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, KMC, AKV Langholt and DuPont Industrial Biosciences will in a new project partnership develop new and healthy protein ingredients based on the potato protein. With a growing global population there will furthermore be a steadily growing demand for food, and by changing our diets away from eating a lot of meat to mostly eating plant-based products, it will be possible to feed more people without encroaching on countryside that is currently not used for farming.

The project has just received 14.3 million Danish kroner from Innovation Fund Denmark and is partly based on a completed PhD project in the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University that studied the use and fractionation of potato protein for food purposes:

- In the new project we will characterise the composition and properties of potato protein fractions and take a closer look at potential methods for removing the toxins since these make it challenging to utilise potato protein as a food ingredient today, says Professor Lotte Bach Larsen from the Department of Food Science, and continues:

- We will also be looking at how we can inhibit or eliminate undesirable enzyme activity that leads to undesired browning of the isolates.

Not only will this benefit the Danish agricultural sector and the food producers – it will also be a more sustainable and environmentally appropriate way of use the large quantity of potato protein.

The scientists will also - in cooperation with the industry - identify current and possible future consumers in order to customise the new products and ensure their commercial success.

The project runs for five years.

Further information

Innovation Fund Denmark investment: 14.3 million DKK.

Overall project budget: 20 million DKK.
Project duration: 5 years

The project’s official title is proPOTATO: Potato proteins – challenges and industrial usages, and the project consortium consists of Aarhus University (Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics/iNANO, Department of Food Science, Department of Management), University of Copenhagen (Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences), KMC A.m.b.a., AKV Langholt AMBA and DuPont Nutrition Biosciences ApS.

Project leader is Carsten Scavenius from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University.


Professor Lotte Bach Larsen
Department of Food Science, Aarhus University
E-mail: lottebach.larsen@food.au.dk
Telephone: +45 8715 8049/2281 9282 

Associate Professor Carsten Scavenius
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics – Protein Research, Aarhus University
Email: csss@mbg.au.dk
Telephone: +45 87154932




DCA, Food