The global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion, potentially doubling the demand for food by 2050. The threat of planetary protein deficiency has become a strong factor driving research and development of new alternative protein sources such as the hemp plant.
For years, KeyLeaf has been on the front lines of hemp protein research, exploring ways of viably extracting, isolating, and developing hemp protein components, and has developed a number of high-value ingredients resulting from the company’s leading-edge work in the plant protein space.
KeyLeaf’s hemp protein production process begins with the hemp seed, which is harvested locally in the nutrient rich soils of Saskatchewan. After harvesting, the seeds then undergo a proprietary “partial dehulling” process, one of the key steps required for the production of a premiere quality protein. With hulls partially removed, the seeds are pressed at a low temperature to prevent degradation of the protein and the seed’s oil, a high-quality co-product of the process. With the oil pressed out, the protein solids that remain are then dry milled into flours, powders, and other products for consumption.
KeyLeaf’s optimization of the dehulling and pressing parameters enables the company to produce – without chemicals — a high-nutrient hemp protein which retains its nutritional benefits along with its neutral taste and light color; two very important attributes for food manufacturers who wish to avoid the off-flavor that often accompanies plant proteins when they are used as ingredients in baked goods like bread, cookies, or biscuits. Containing all 9 essential amino acids, and being highly soluble, KeyLeaf’s hemp protein works well in baked goods, crackers, snack bars, shakes, powdered protein supplements, and high protein snack foods.
In addition to producing hemp protein ingredients with 60-90 % protein purity, as well as hydrolyzed, heat treated, extruded, and fractionated proteins for specific uses, KeyLeaf also processes the locally grown industrial hemp seeds into oil, fiber ingredients, as well as finished products
Of special interest to formulators is that KeyLeaf’s protein isolates and fractions have minimal or very low carbohydrate content, allowing them to be incorporated into low-carb or keto diets. These proteins, in general, are gut-friendly and easily digestible. KeyLeaf scientists have also developed technologies to use hemp proteins to encapsulate various sensitive oils, bioactives, and other high value extracts to extend stability and expand product applications.