Cano-ela aims to unlock the full potential of canola seeds by processing oil-rich seeds in an innovative way.

Conventional extraction of oil-rich seeds only extract one component - vegetable oil, even though the seeds contain all of the building blocks to create foods, like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. During her PhD in Food Processing Engineering at Wageningen University & Research, Juliana Romero Guzmán started looking into innovative ways to process canola seeds and in 2020 she started her own company: Cano-ela. “Oil is only 40% of the seed components. It is a pity that less than half of the seed is used for food purposes. At Cano-ela we found a way to process the seeds in such a way that all components can be used for food production, and nothing is wasted. Our unique process allows us to extract three innovative ingredients of the seeds: Cano-cream, Cano-soluble and Cano-fiber. Cano-cream can be used in products that normally contain fats, to give an improved mouthfeel in plant based alternatives for dairy or meat for example, but you can also use it for making cakes. Cano-soluble is a protein rich product that can be used to bind material together, for example for whisking an egg for a burger. Finally, we have Cano-fiber. The fiber contains a lot of antioxidants, so you can, for example, add it to bread to increase the antioxidants and make it a little bit healthier.”

Questions & challenges

“The past year we have been busy with upscaling the process. Customers that were interested, wanted to see the performance in their products, so the small amounts we produced in our lab didn’t suffice. We have initiated upscaling trials to get the product to the customer first aided by just subsidies and later thanks to private investment. This activity was essential to gather feedback from potential customers to improve the process. We are now processing hundreds kg of seeds, which also delivers hundreds  kg of product. Upscaling comes with technological as well as financial challenges. This year we were able to close our second round of funding,  but for building a factory we relied on a lot of external parties. Now we have made our own pilot scheme. I have no experience in building factories, but we did hire someone specialized in upscaling businesses. I really like that the Circular Factory program includes some visits to factories to get inspired. It is also nice to share ideas with other  start-ups, who are in the same phase . Sometimes talking to others with a bit more experience can save you months of work. That is exactly what we are  looking for in the programme: a space with like-minded people who are happy to share their experiences and support each other.”

The future

“In five years from now we would like to have a factory that is actually processing around 40 kilotons of seeds per year. Our aim is to contribute to a more circular economy, but also to a healthier world. One of my favorite things about the crop we use is the nutritional profile. I would love to see that more plant based products are aiming not just to be a replacer in terms of sensory quality, but also in terms of nutritional value. I believe and I hope that our ingredients can contribute to this transition and that other companies will follow in our footsteps.”



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