Peer-reviewed articles

Life-cycle assessment of yeast-based single-cell protein production with oat processing side-stream


Elísabet Eik Guðmundsdóttir

Project Manager

Authors: Yumi Kobayashi, Mohammad EL-Wali, Hörður Guðmundsson, Elísabet Eik Guðmundsdóttir, Ólafur H. Friðjónsson, Eva Nordberg Karlsson, Marja Roitto, Hanna L. Tuomisto,

Version: Science of The Total Environment

Publication year: 2023


Production of fish meal and plant-based feed proteins continues to increase to meet the growing demand for seafood, leading to impacts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Microbial proteins such as single-cell proteins (SCPs) have been introduced as feed alternatives since they can replace current fish feed ingredients, eg, soybean, which are associated with negative environmental impacts. Microbial protein production also enables utilization of grain processing side-streams as feedstock sources. This study assesses the environmental impacts of yeast-based SCP using oat side-stream as feedstock (OS-SCP). Life-cycle assessment with a cradle-to-gate approach was used to quantify global warming, freshwater eutrophication, marine eutrophication, terrestrial acidification, land use, and water consumption of OS-SCP production in Finland. Dried and wet side-streams of oat were compared with each other to identify differences in energy consumption and transportation effects. Sensitivity analysis was performed to examine the difference in impacts at various locations and fermentation times. Benchmarking was used to evaluate the environmental impacts of OS-SCP and other feed products, including both conventional and novel protein products. Results highlight the importance of energy sources in quantifying the environmental performance of OS-SCP production. OS-SCP produced with dried side-streams resulted in higher global warming (16.3 %) and water consumption (7.5 %) than OS-SCP produced from wet side-streams, reflecting the energy and water requirements for the drying process. Compared with conventional products, such as soy protein concentrates, OS-SCP resulted in 61 % less land use, while exacerbating the environmental impacts in all the other categories. OS-SCP had more impact on global warming (205–754 %), water consumption (166–1401 %), freshwater eutrophication (118–333 %), and terrestrial acidification (85–340 %) than other novel products, including yeast protein concentrate, methanotrophic bacterial SCP, and insect meal, while lowering global warming (11 %) and freshwater eutrophication (20 %) compared with dry microalgae biomass.