(L-R) Vee Gururajan, director at B-hive, Tom Britton, engineering manager at Branston Prepared, Richard Fell, managing director at Branston Prepared, Alison Wright, project manager at B-Hive

(L-R) Vee Gururajan, director at B-hive; Tom Britton, engineering manager at Branston Prepared; Richard Fell, managing director at Branston Prepared; Alison Wright, project manager at B-Hive

Work has started on a new £6m facility at Branston's site in Lincolnshire to extract high grade plant protein from potatoes.

The UK potato supplier is working alongside B-hive Innovations as part of a collaborative project to improve potato crop utilisation.

The commercial factory is the first of its kind in the UK and will see the introduction of bespoke technologies and capabilities to meet the growing demand for UK grown plant-based ingredients, Branston said.

The facility will convert low-value potatoes into clean-label functional protein, which can be used in vegetarian and vegan foods. It will also generate starch-based products for a range of manufacturing applications.

The project is being headed up by the newly appointed managing director of the Branston’s Prepared Foods division, Richard Fell, as a key part of his focus on transforming the prepared business.

Commenting on the project, Fell said: “We’re delighted to be working with B-hive Innovations on this new venture. Most people are aware of potato starch and fibre in potatoes, but they don’t consider the highly nutritious protein fraction.

“B-hive Innovations has been honing this technology for a number of years, working with a group of academic and industry partners and supported by Innovate UK. They have developed a process to gently extract and isolate high-grade proteins from potatoes. This means we have the potential to meet the growing requirements from food manufacturers for 100 per cent plant-based protein that is free from allergens and is fully traceable from our UK grown crops.”

Branston is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of potatoes – supporting UK retailers and wholesalers nationwide – as well as providing seed for potato growers.