Different methods of production
Processing methods and choice of ingredients are important factors for the final nutritional content and environmental impact of a food product. In Brannatura we try to design production methods that are an improvement compared to the market standard in both nutrition and impact. If we look at oat-based beverages (milk alternatives), there are currently two standard production methods in the market (Table 1). With the simple method, the non-water fraction of the product mostly consists of starch and/or sugar while there is not much nutrition (protein, vitamins, minerals) naturally present. With the elaborate method, more nutrition of the cereal is retained, but the method requires processing equipment that is available at only a limited number of producers of oat-based beverages. Brannatura improved both methods and designed a third -circular- one that is even better in both areas.

Table 1.
Standard simple
method
Simple method
improved
Standard elaborate
method
Elaborate method
improved
Brannatura's
breakthough method
Production possibility
Almost
everywhere
Almost
everywhere
Limited number of locations
or CAPEX needed
Limited number of locations
or CAPEX needed
CAPEX
needed
Nutrition levels
-
+
+
++
+++
Carbon footprint*1
+
-
+
--
---
Waste/by-product
++
++
+
+
-*2
*1 As determined per amount of nutrition (for example protein), see also figure 2 below.
*2 Zero-waste and waste-negative options are possible.

 

Climate impacts of various solutions
Normally climate impact is determined by calculating the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) of various various emitted greenhouse gases, use of energy, and ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change), for more detailed information on how CO2eq is determined and how we calculate our impact, please find our publication here.
It may be evident that plant-based products, like oat-based beverages, generally have lower climate impacts than the animal-based ones they are meant to replace, like cow milk (Figure 1). However, if the nutritional quality of products is taken into account, for example by determining the impact per amount of protein, they are not always the most sustainable options (Figure 2). Although Brannatura's improved simple and elaborate methods have slightly higher climate impacts than the standard ones as a result of higher nutrient densities, per amount of protein their impacts are considerably lower. Using the breakthrough method, we can even further reduce the climate impact.

Figure 1. CO2eq per kg of product*. The climate impacts of the oat-based beverages are compared with semi-skimmed cow milk. Figure 2. CO2eq per 10 g of protein*. The climate impacts of the oat-based beverages are compared with semi-skimmed cow milk.
CO2eq for various products CO2eq per g protein for various products
* Impacts of transport, packaging and retail are not included. Source data: Denstoreklimadatabase, IdeMat.

 

Waste-negative and carbon neutral
The breakthrough method is based on a circular process that has several options, meaning that (i) the by-product of the process may be used as food ingredient elsewhere (indicated in yellow in Figure 3) although (ii) the process does not necessarily have to result in by-products (indicated in orange) which makes it a zero-waste process. Moreover, (iii) the method allows using by-products from for example milling and plant protein industries, making it a waste-negative process. This means that climate impact resulting from ingredient sourcing can be minimized.
Of course processing requires energy and there will be carbon emmissions related to packaging, transport and retail, but if these are also dealt with smartly, the product can in principle become carbon neutral all the way "from field to fork".

Circular production process
Figure 3. Graphic representation of how circular options are included in a standard oat-based beverage production process. Black: standard linear process; yellow: valorization of by-product of the process; orange: avoidence of by-product formation; green: valorization of other inustries' by-products.