‘There’s a huge protein gap, and we’re going to help fill it’: RiceBran Technologies blazes trail with new rice bran protein range

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Amino acid Nutrition

RiceBran Technologies launches novel rice bran protein range
A firm that has made a name for itself by extracting value-added ingredients from rice bran - which always used to be regarded as a waste by-product of rice-milling - is hoping to score another industry first with the launch of high-quality rice bran proteins targeting the human nutrition market. 

By arresting the enzymatic reaction that causes raw rice bran to deteriorate after milling, RiceBran Technologies can stabilize the bran and produce a range of ingredients from rice bran oil to soluble and insoluble fibers.

But one of the biggest opportunities  is protein, says the firm, which can now produce commercial quantities of rice bran protein ingredients from its site in Dillon, Montana, “without the use of solvents, acids or bases”.

The first protein ingredients to launch are PRORYZA P-35: A 35% water-dispersible rice bran protein extract for beverage applications; and PRORYZA PF-20/50: A 20% rice bran protein and 50% insoluble rice bran dietary fiber product suitable for bars, shakes, and other health products.

Other ingredients to follow at a later date are likely to include more concentrated protein concentrates and isolates.

‘There will be more than 9bn people on this planet by 2050, and if we want to feed all of them, we need to find new sources of protein’

Samples of the first two PRORYZA products have received excellent feedback from the market as firms seek to launch more protein-enriched beverages, bars, shakes and other products, chief executive John Short told NutraIngredients-USA.

“Other rice protein ingredients are derived from white rice endosperm or from germinating rice seeds. But we are the first to produce protein from rice bran.

“There will be more than 9bn people on this planet by 2050, and if we want to feed all of them, we need to find new sources of protein. This launch is not about us stealing market share from pea or soy or whey protein, but tapping into growing demand.

“There is a big protein gap that exists today and we can help fill it.”

Non-GMO, non-allergenic, easily-digested, with a full range of amino acids and a superior flavor profile

Rice bran, including the germ, is the outer layer of the brown rice kernel after the husk has been removed. Until recently, the bran and germ were an underutilized by-product of the commercial, rice-milling industry.

The new rice bran proteins are particularly attractive to food, beverage and supplement manufacturers because they do not have the bitter off notes associated with some other plant-based proteins such as mustard seed, soy and pea, can be marketed as non-GMO, and are hypoallergenic, he said.

“They are also minimally processed and extracted without the use of solvents, so they are natural. They are easily digested and they taste great; you can put them on a spoon and eat them on their own.

"They also blend well with other proteins if you are looking to achieve a particular amino acid profile, for example.”

DSM ‘continues to explore the field of new vegetable proteins, including rice proteins’

RiceBran Technologies president and CEO W. John Short: 'There will be more than 9bn people on this planet by 2050, and if we want to feed all of them, we need to find new sources of protein'

The products are being commercialized following the completion of a joint development agreement with DSM, which has particular expertize in using enzymes to ‘chop up’ proteins and has been working with RiceBran Technologies since 2010 to investigate the extraction and modification of proteins from rice bran.

DSM did not offer up anyone for interview but sent a statement confirming it had finalized a joint development agreement with RiceBran but was “not disclosing any details”.

It added: “DSM continues to explore the field of new vegetable proteins - including rice proteins - and intends to initiate and develop innovations with partners in this area.”

Rice protein’s nutritional credentials


The amino acid profile for rice protein and whey protein is very similar, with differences of 1-3% in some of the amino acids. Rice protein is better for arginine and glutamine, while whey is better for the branched chain amino acids (BCAA).

While rice protein has often been seen as a poor cousin to whey protein in the nutritional stakes, a recent study (click here​) suggesting that the effects of rice and whey protein isolate are in fact “identical​” for sports nutrition has helped give rice protein a PR boost, however.

The study’s findings have been submitted to Nutrition & Metabolism​ and were presented recently by Dr Ralf Jaeger from Wisconsin-based Increnovo LLC, who collaborated on the research with Dr. Jacob Wilson from The University of Tampa.

They found that rice protein isolate administration post resistance exercise decreased fat-mass and increased lean body mass, skeletal muscle hypertrophy, power and strength comparable to whey protein isolate.

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