Royal Cosun bets on potatoes and sugar beet for plant-based alternatives

The ‘protein transition’,​ the switch many believe that we (the human race, that is) will need to make away from animal sources of protein towards alternative sources, is well on the way.

Plant-based meat, fish and dairy alternatives, while seeing a significant downturn in recent months, is still a significant part of this.

When developing plant-based substitutes, ingredients companies often use soy, pea, and wheat protein. Dutch agricultural cooperative Royal Cosun, however, develops plant-based products using sugar beets and potatoes (it also develops plant-based alternatives using cichorei and plant-based alternatives using fava beans.)

Because they produce these products in such abundance, they have a range of side streams which they can put into plant-based alternatives, as well as alternative applications of these crops in meat, fish and dairy alternatives. 

Developing plant-based alternatives from sugar beet pulp

Royal Cosun aims to focus on utilising its crops, including the side-streams, to develop plant-based alternatives. The company’s focus is on “unlocking the full potential of our crops, including the side streams,” Royal Cosun CEO Hans Meeuwis told FoodNavigator. 

The sugar beet is one such crop. It is a hardy crop and can withstand changing climatic pressures, Meeuwis toldus. “It’s a strong and resilient crop.”

Its side streams, such as sugar-beet pulp, can be used as a functional ingredient in plant-based alternatives.

Cosun has developed uses for the sugar beet pulp, which would usually be used mainly in cattle feed. “We’ve been looking for other applications for this product, which is a co-product; a by-product if you wish,” Mathys Boeren, director for research, development and innovation at Royal Cosun, told FoodNavigator. The company uses it in plant-based fish or meat alternatives and in falafel bites and burgers.