It is necessary to look for alternatives to the consumption of animal protein. This project is developing the next generation of protein foods.
The plant protein market is growing. Not only do we have more and more people opting for a diet without meat and fish, but these alternatives are an urgency, since feeding the planet the way it has been until now has proven to be unsustainable.
With a focus on the production of new food alternatives, Smart Protein was born. This is a European Union-funded research and innovation project that seeks to rethink the food system and develop the next generation of economical, sustainable, nutritious and resource-efficient protein foods.
Over 4 years, its major goal is to meet the protein needs of 9 billion people in a way that is healthy, affordable, and good for the environment, while reducing waste through industry by-products.
Alternative sources will be the focus of the project and include innovative plant products (lentils, chickpeas, broad beans and quinoa – crops that can be grown in Europe), new protein ingredients (yeast, yeast and fungi) and secondary production streams for pasta, beer and bread that will give rise to new forms of meat, fish, seafood, dairy and bakery products.
In addition, the new protein supply chain needs to provide jobs with less dependence on importing countries, be secure, transparent, open to a wide range of technologies, cultures, approaches and business models, and adapted and future-proofed. In its list of objectives, the project also proposes to build a system
which, instead of producing, captures CO 2 .
A survey by Smart Protein revealed that the sale of plant-based foods and beverages was targeted for a 49% increase between 2018 and 2020. This pace of demand should be accompanied not only by an increase in alternatives, but by an improvement in their ingredients and prices. For example, in the case of fish, consumers find alternative products too processed, additive, and unaffordable.
The Smart Protein project has joined more than 30 external partners that include universities, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and companies from the food and beverage industry (such as the portuguese Soguima), to support the growth of this market and consumer trust and acceptance.