Converting Seafood Byproducts to Food



  • Health-Agriculture Nexus

CORVALLIS, Ore. (November 16, 2021) – The American food system wastes food and resources, in part because raw materials are discarded during processing. This waste, especially of protein sources, is highly concerning as scientists predict that climate change will exacerbate existing protein deficiencies. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research is providing a $333,777 Seeding Solutions grant to researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) to develop high protein, nutritious and attractive food products from byproducts of the seafood industry. Matching funds and in-kind support were provided by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, OSU, OSU Food Innovation Center, Pacific Seafood Group, Seafood Industry Research Fund, Trident Seafoods and West Coast Seafood Processors Association for a total $667,570 investment.

Protein recovered from seafood byproducts can be a cheap, quality source of nutrition. This research exemplifies a ‘no stone unturned’ approach to increasing global food and nutritional security through limiting food waste. Lucyna Kurtyka, M.S.
Senior Scientific Program Director Health-Agriculture Nexus

The seafood industry currently uses only 30 to 40 percent of what it harvests for human consumption and discards a large amount of edible raw materials during processing. The discarded materials contain substantial nutritional content that can provide essential nutrients for humans, including high-quality protein. However, it is currently unclear how nutritious this protein is compared with other protein supplements such as whey. There is also little research on how to maximize protein extraction from byproducts while preserving the protein’s nutritional value. In addition, any products derived from seafood byproducts would also need to overcome possible resistance from consumers.

Researchers at OSU, led by Dr. Jung Kwon, are quantifying the nutritional value of seafood byproducts and developing dietary products that will be attractive to consumers. The first step in this process is optimizing the process of extracting protein from the byproducts. Once an efficient technique is in place, the researchers will assess the proteins’ nutritional content as compared to other protein supplements, and how the seafood protein interacts with human health. The team will then develop prototype food products and supplements from the protein that will be assessed through consumer panels. Finally, the researchers will conduct research and outreach to determine market demand and increase consumer interest in these products.

I believe the project, if successful, will provide far-reaching benefits not only to the stakeholders in the seafood sector including fisheries, processors, aquaculture producers and seafood suppliers but also to the broader food supply chain as well as the global population. The success of the proposed project will push forward the notion of a sustainable food system to the next level. A success case can inspire and propagate similar innovative efforts to transform our entire food system. The outcome of the project will create a platform where diversification of food product is more readily possible and accepted. Dr. Jung Kwon
Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

Seeding Solutions is FFAR’s annual competitive grant program that supports bold research in any of our Challenge Areas or builds bridges between our Challenge Areas. FFAR supports innovative projects that address challenges in food supply and agroecosystem management through novel partnerships. Such collaborations provide opportunities to engage stakeholders as integral members of the research team and increase the likelihood of a project’s application beyond its scope.

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Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking

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