Branston has hired a new general manager for its pioneering protein extraction facility.
The potato supplier has appointed Tom Seagrief to the GM role in preparation for full-scale production and commercialisation of potato protein in early 2024.
He has returned to Branston, having joined the team on its graduate programme over a decade ago. He previously worked in technical and finance roles, gaining experience in operations before being promoted to managerial roles within Branston’s site services and raw materials departments.
Seagrief also worked as a space planning officer at the University of Lincoln and in further managerial roles in production and operations at wholegrain food supplier Jordans Dorset Ryvita.
“I’m excited to be re-joining Branston to take on the challenge of leading the new protein extraction facility and bringing our UK-grown and processed potato protein to market,” he said.
Seagrief was welcomed back by Branston MD Jim Windle, who said: “his production knowledge and experience with high-care food factory environments will be invaluable. Tom has already fully embraced our ongoing mission to utilise all of the crops we handle, and to get the best quality, and most sustainable return for the end to end supply chain from every single tuber.”
The appointment follows on from Branston’s multimillion-pound investment into its protein factory, which is the first of its kind in the UK, in partnership with RootExtracts.
The supplier began working on the most effective way to extract protein from potatoes in 2013 starting from a lab-based level and gradually scaling up to a commercially viable operation.
“The world is our oyster when it comes to the potential uses of potato protein, with the market for plant-based foods continuing to grow,” Seagrief added. “I am thrilled to be part of the Branston journey as we fine-tune and scale up our operations to meet the demand for UK-grown functional protein.”
Seagrief will be working with a team to optimise the technologies within the factory, to convert large volumes of the low value byproduct into a high-quality functional protein to meet customers’ specifications.
Branston claims potato protein offers a highly nutritious and natural ingredient for the food manufacturing industry, with technical applications stemming from binding, gelatinisation and emulsification properties.
It can be used across a number of food types including baking products, plant-based meat alternatives, the deli sector and much more.
“With the official factory opening due in early 2024, we’re focusing on recruitment to expand our highly skilled team,” said Seagrief. “We’re also testing and optimising the final product, now in its pre-production phase, and working closely with potential customers to ensure we’re ready to gear up for full production.”