Smart thinking

Well, Europe… you have been busy! An initiative under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme will be launched next year to encourage development in plant-based foods.

The Smart Protein project is being led by the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Cork, Ireland. The Commission is providing €8.2m (US$8.9m) of the total €9.6m in funding to support “new-protein foods made from plants, fungi, by-products, and residues”. 

Smart Protein will run for four years from 1 January 2020 with the first products – plant-based meats, fish, seafood, cheese, infant formula, other dairy products and baked goods – scheduled for launch in 2025. 

Why the move? To future-proof protein supply by creating sustainable and nutritious alternative proteins in the face of climate change and global food security. And Smart will be all inclusive too. S.M.A.R.T. actually stands for something –  

  • Supportive and inclusive by providing jobs with less dependency from importing countries, engaging everyone involved in the food system and providing nutritious foods;
  • Multiple targets addressing customers request for clean label, taste and texture;
  • Affordable alternatives to traditional protein source (animal and soy-based protein);
  • Regenerative, responsible, resilient and circular;
  • Tailored to the changing world by being open to a wide range of technologies, approaches, cultures and business models.

A total of 33 partners from industry, research, and academia from 21 countries are collaborating in the project, including Glanbia, Barilla, and Thai Union Group. 

New products will also be developed from plants, including fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa.

Protein will be in mainstream consciousness more than it is now. By the time products are launched I fully expect the releases to be part of a new standard. 

Whatever your protein poison, there’s much to like here…potentially fun and exciting flavours, a range of foods to be proud of and it’s hard not to look past the truly awesome macros.

Well done… this might just be the push the protein market has been missing!

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