FUTUREPROTEIN: in search of new sustainable protein sources

17 Feb 2021


Due to the continuously growing world population, the global demand for protein is increasing. And as the resulting pressure on traditional animal sources is considered unsustainable, there’s an urgent need for new sustainable protein sources. That is why different parties along the value chain, including Puratos, partnered up in the EIT Food project FUTUREPROTEIN to analyse the protein challenge from different points of view. What are the main challenges, barriers and constraints, and what are the opportunities? 

Increased need for alternative proteins

Estimates are that in 2050, nearly 10 billion people will inhabit our planet. To feed us all, global food production needs to increase by 60-70%. This demand for food can’t be covered by existing sources. And it also brings other challenges. Since animal-origin products are currently our main protein source, the need for new sustainable protein sources that are safe and with high nutritional quality is becoming more urgent. 

To find out what we actually know about alternative proteins, their nutritional value and the extent to which they will be accepted by citizens, the EIT Food project FUTUREPROTEIN was set up. EIT Food* is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trustworthy. 

The future of protein in Europe

The FUTUREPROTEIN project focuses on the future of protein and the protein of the future in Europe. It brings together key stakeholders in Europe (from academia, industry, safety authorities, policy makers and consumers) to debate the protein challenge from a technological, nutritional, economic, environmental, legislative and social point of view. 

The project aims to raise awareness and achieve consensus along the value chain on the main challenges, barriers and constraints that the research on new proteins will have to tackle – as well as clearly identifying opportunities arising in the years ahead.

Consumer survey reveals lack of knowledge about alternative proteins

To find out consumers’ attitudes and their consumption of proteins, a survey of 1,500 consumers in Spain, Denmark and Germany was held.
In the survey, the awareness and consumption of both high protein food and novel protein food was investigated. Concerning new protein sources – such as lentils, peas, microalgae, mushrooms, hemp and insects – consumers were asked for their knowledge, their predilections, their consumption, their willingness to try, their motivation and their barriers. 

The survey’s conclusions were disclosed in a conference in which representatives of food companies, research centres and food law experts discussed the needs and challenges faced by science, technology and the agro-food industry. And the figures make it clear: we need to improve knowledge about alternative proteins. For example, just one in four people in Spain would be willing to reduce their red meat consumption, and very few consider insects to be a good, healthy or sustainable protein source; even fewer (6% of the respondents) would be willing to include them in their diet.

Based on the survey results, a manifesto has been written on the needs and opportunities in protein research and the market for the coming years. Further activities to boost networking and collaboration of all stakeholders on protein research and development will be proposed for the following years. 

The importance of this project for Puratos

Puratos has partnered up with three other organisations: AZTI, Fraunhofer and Aarhus University. We have contributed to the project in a number of ways: composing the survey and directing the questions; listing the criteria of importance in research and markets; setting up the workshop and delivering a presentation in the programme; and helping to draft the manifesto.

The topic of proteins is important for Puratos because it aligns with different approaches we have in terms of sustainability and Health and Well-Being. As part of our FoodTech Innovation programme, the learnings from this project will be taken into future projects and opportunities, as new protein sources will allow us to differentiate and bring functionalities in line with customer and consumer expectations. This is necessary, as you can see in this interesting movie in which consumers offer their opinion on novel protein sources


Are you curious about other future-proof innovations Puratos has been working on recently? 

We are partners in multiple EIT Food projects, including PROVE, VALOCAKE, PHENOLIVA and UnderPRESSURE.


About EIT Food

EIT Food FUTUREPROTEIN is a project supported by EIT Food*. EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.

The initiative is made up of an innovation community of key industry players across Europe, consisting of over 90 partner organisations and more than 50 start-ups from 16 EU member states. It is one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

EIT Food aims to collaborate closely with consumers to develop new knowledge and technology-based products and services that will ultimately deliver a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for all European citizens.

You can follow EIT Food via www.eitfood.eu or via social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram