Not one, but three different protein products can be extracted from the same poultry carcass using newly developed processes. As a result, each individual chicken and turkey provides more value.

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Anne-May Johansen  

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Using newly developed processes, Nils Kristian Afseth and his Nofima research colleagues have developed a method that makes it possible to develop three different protein products – in addition to fillets – from one and the same chicken or turkey. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen, Nofima 

After the fillets are removed, up to 40 percent of the chicken or turkey remains. In other words, there are many valuable parts that can be utilised in a better way. 

In the industry, chicken and turkey carcasses are currently processed using enzymes that release the fat, break down the proteins and extract bones and minerals. The fat is mainly used for animal feed. The protein is also used in animal feed, especially pet food, but also in food for human consumption. 

Nofima scientists have now found a method that enables even more protein products with different uses and characteristics to be extracted from the same rest raw material – which accounts for up to 40 percent of a chicken. 

“It is time that we start looking at chicken carcasses as a raw material that is on a par with chicken fillets, and not a rest raw material”, says Nils Kristian Afseth. 

Three products instead of one

The protein found in poultry can be divided into two main groups: muscle proteins and connective tissue. 

“These have completely different characteristics, but this is not taken into account in today’s processing. All the protein ends up in the same product”, says Nils Kristian Afseth.  

He is the project manager of the Notably research project, which has now been completed. 

The starting point in the project was to investigate whether it was possible to develop a process for extracting different types of protein hydrolysates using different compositions from the same raw material. 

“It was possible”, the scientist states. 

Connective tissue proteins in poultry are unique in that they melt at higher temperatures compared to similar proteins from pigs, which are the main source of gelatin. 

“So, by combining different temperatures and enzymes in relation to different proteins, we have developed a process where we get not just one, but three types of protein products from the same poultry carcass”, says Afseth.

The three products are: 

  • A muscle peptide mixture
  • A mixture comprising of large collagen peptides
  • A mixture comprising of small collagen peptides

Completely different characteristics and applications

The three products have completely different characteristics and possible applications: 

  • Muscle peptides are good in nutrition. These products will therefore be a great if you want to protein-enrich food, or if you want to develop food products that are suitable for rapid absorption in the body. Sports nutrition or food for the elderly, for example.
  • Large collagen peptides don’t have a particularly good nutritional quality. However, they can contribute to texture in food and pharmaceutical products. The peptides can be compared to gelatin, which is extracted from pigs and used a lot in food products. The positive thing about poultry protein is that it can also be used where pigs cannot be used for religious reasons. 
  • Studies have shown that the small peptides are very interesting in the development of different types of bioactive ingredients. i.e., ingredients that affect living organisms.  

Work on developing the processes to improve the utilisation of rest raw materials is now continuing in a new collaborative project called Spectacoll, which started in January this year. 

“Further work is now taking place along two paths: Optimising the process so that we can produce all three types of protein products efficiently and with high yields, and develop potential applications for all three types of protein products”, says Nils Kristian Afseth. 

Facts about the research projects

  • Notably is the short name for the project ‘Novel Cascade Technology for optimum utilisation of animal and marine byproducts’. 
  • The project took place during the period 2018 to 2022. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway under the BIONAER programme. 
  • Partners are Sintef Industri, Simula, Lund University, Brødrene Karlsen, Biomega Group, Norilia and Bioco.
  • Spectacoll is the short name for the project ‘Tailor-making specialised collagen peptides for high-end markets using by-products from the Norwegian poultry and salmon industry’. 
  • The project takes place in the period 2023 – 2025. It is funded by FFL/JA – Research Funding for Agriculture and Food Industry, through the Research Council of Norway. 
  • Partners are the University of Oslo, Norilia, Bioco and Hofseth Biocare.

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