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What is Single Cell Protein (SCP) ? Definition & Properties

What is Single Cell Protein  (SCP) is a protein-rich biomass produced by the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, and algae. SCP can be used as a food or feed supplement, and it has been proposed as a potential solution to the global protein shortage.

What is Single Cell Protein (SCP) ? Definition & Properties

SCP has a number of properties that make it a promising protein source. One such emerging solution is single cell protein (SCP), a versatile and promising alternative that has gained traction in recent years.
What is Single Cell Protein

In this blog post, we will know about the properties of single cell protein and explore its potential as a viable protein source for a sustainable future.

Nutritional Composition and Diversity of SCP

Single cell protein exhibits a diverse range of nutritional compositions, making it a versatile protein source. It typically contains all essential amino acids required for human nutrition, making it a 

complete protein. Moreover, SCP can be tailored to meet specific nutritional requirements by adjusting the growth conditions, resulting in a protein source that rivals traditional animal-based proteins.

Sustainability and Resource Efficiency

One of the most significant advantages of single cell protein is its potential for sustainable production. SCP can be cultivated using a variety of raw materials, including agricultural residues, food waste, or 

even carbon dioxide from industrial processes. By utilizing these waste streams SCP production can contribute to waste reduction and minimize environmental impact. Furthermore, SCP cultivation 

requires significantly less land, water, and energy compared to traditional livestock farming, making it a highly resource-efficient protein source.

Food Security and Accessibility

As the global population continues to grow, ensuring food security for all becomes increasingly challenging. Single cell protein offers a promising solution to this issue. Its production can be easily 

scaled up and performed in diverse geographical locations. including areas with limited arable land or adverse climates. The accessibility and adaptability of SCP production make it an attractive option for 

regions facing food insecurity or those seeking to diversify their protein sources.

Properties of Single Cell Protein

  1. SCP can be produced from a variety of renewable resources, including agricultural waste, industrial waste, and even human and animal waste. This makes SCP a sustainable and environmentally friendly protein source.
  2. SCP is a complete protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids which are essential for humans and other animals. This makes SCP a valuable source of protein for both human and animal nutrition.
  3. SCP typically contains between 40% and 70% protein on a dry weight basis. This is significantly higher than the protein content of most plant-based foods, such as soybeans (35%) and corn (10%).
  4. In addition to protein, SCP also contains other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. The nutrient content of SCP can vary depending on the type of microorganism used and the growth conditions.
  5. SCP can have a variety of flavours and textures, depending on the type of microorganism used and the processing method. Some SCP products have a bland, neutral flavour and a soft, mushy texture. Other SCP products have a more pronounced flavour and a firmer texture.

Functional and Technological Applications

Beyond its nutritional benefits, single cell protein exhibits various functional and technological properties. SCP can be utilized in the formulation of animal feed, replacing conventional protein 

sources and reducing the environmental impact of livestock farming. Additionally, the unique characteristics of SCP, such as its ability to bind and retain water, make it a valuable ingredient in food 

processing, improving texture, and enhancing product quality.


The exploration of single cell protein has opened up new possibilities for sustainable protein production and addressing the challenges associated with feeding a growing global population.

Its diverse nutritional composition, resource efficiency, and functional properties make it an attractive alternative to conventional protein sources.

As research and development in this field continues to progress, single cell protein holds the potential to revolutionise the way we produce and consume protein, paving the way towards a more sustainable and secure future.