In 2019, the average wheat flour consumption per person in Europe was approximately 74 kilograms per year, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. To produce this flour, wheat is ground using roller mills, which separate four major fractions of the grain: flour and three byproducts, namely bran, middlings, and germ.
Zoom on the valorisation of wheat bran
The percentage of flour obtained during the grinding of wheat grains varies, depending on the type of milling and the part of the wheat grain used. For white flour, 70 to 75% of the raw grains are used, while for whole wheat flour, 85% to 90% are utilized.
Wheat bran, consisting of bran and middlings, is the primary byproduct of the milling industry, accounting for 14 to 19% of the materials resulting from wheat crushing. It is excluded from white flour due to the negative perception linked to its dark colour. In Belgium, the main valorisations for wheat bran are in energy biomass and animal feed. It can also occasionally be reintroduced in the formulation of whole-grain bread and pasta.
One highly interesting aspect of wheat bran is that, unlike other byproducts of the agro-food industry, it is relatively dry and does not require extensive drying stabilization operations, making the logistics for its potential utilization easier.
While logistics and stabilization do not seem to be impediments to wheat bran utilization, its composition can cause challenges for higher value-added applications. As mentioned earlier, wheat bran is composed of bran and middling, and these two fractions exhibit significant disparities in composition and characteristics. Middlings are richer in proteins, starch, and lipids but contain fewer cellulosic materials compared to bran.
B-Resilient, a project to optimize the valorisation of coproducts
In the context of higher value-added utilisation, questions about the separability of these generated fractions are essential. What pre-treatments should be employed for the separation of these two byproducts? What structure should be established to valorise these byproducts? Can the utilization of this byproduct be combined with other byproducts for mutual benefits?
A project is currently underway in the Walloon Region as part of the Circular Wallonia strategy, aiming to explore profitable valorisations for various byproducts and address regulatory, logistical, conservation, and stabilization challenges in the process.
4 co-products are being studied: wheat bran, apple pomace, brewers' grains and rapeseed meal.
Wagralim is helping you in this approach
Would you like to take part in this project or receive more information about co-product recovery? Wagralim can advise you in this area. Please do not hesitate to contact our Circular Economy Project Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org