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UK to Establish Alternative Protein Research Hub

UK to Establish Alternative Protein Research Hub alternative protein, alternative proteins, Cultivated meat, dairy, Dairy-based ingredients, Fermentation, fish and savoury ingredients, food safety, Innovation and NPD, meat, plant-based, Proteins, Science, Sustainability Food and Beverage Business

In a move that follows the announcement of six innovation hubs exploring the connection between diet and health, a new hub has been established to advance the alternative proteins sector in the UK. The Alternative Proteins Innovation and Knowledge Centre, funded by the Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK, aims to leverage cutting-edge research and innovation to benefit the UK.

The hub will focus on groundbreaking research and emerging technologies within the sector. This initiative comes in response to a recent report by the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), which highlighted the need for increased investment in sustainable protein innovations to keep up with global competitors like the US and Israel.

The hub will explore multiple sectors related to alternative proteins, including fermentation systems, aquaculture, plant-based proteins, cultivated meat, and emerging areas such as edible insects and seaweed cultivation.

Areas of Focus

A range of potential focus areas has been identified by UK Research and Innovation. These include inputs, ingredients and feedstocks, processing and packaging, final product development, and best practice. These focuses, though subject to change, hold significant potential for exploration.

Research on inputs and ingredients could delve into the functionality, environmental impact, and methods of enhancing quality and consistency of different proteins.

Processing and packaging research could address upscaling alternative protein production, increasing yields, reducing costs, and developing circular processes that utilize waste streams.

Final product development research would concentrate on improving the taste, texture, appearance, and nutritional profile of alternative proteins, as well as enhancing their safety.

Best practice research could involve investigating the information regulators need to know about these emerging industries and analyzing the potential impact of a shift towards alternative proteins on traditional sectors and the rural economy.

Research institutions and UK-based businesses are invited to apply for collaboration opportunities within this project.

Dr. Stella Child, Research and Grants Manager at GFI Europe, remarked, “It’s great to see the UK investing in essential research that will make sustainable options delicious, affordable and accessible – and position the country as a global leader in this burgeoning field​. This is exactly the kind of investment our recent report called for. To maximize the potential of this groundbreaking new research center, the government must also step up policy efforts in other areas like regulation to develop a thriving sustainable protein sector”​.

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Food and beverage industry trends have prompted the establishment of a research hub in the UK, focusing on the alternative proteins sector. The Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), in collaboration with Innovate UK, is funding the Alternative Proteins Innovation and Knowledge Centre. This initiative aligns with the need to invest in sustainable protein innovations to compete with global leaders like the US and Israel, as outlined by the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe). The hub will explore various areas, including fermentation systems, aquaculture, plant-based proteins, cultivated meat, and emerging sectors like edible insects and seaweed cultivation.

The research will focus on inputs, ingredients and feedstocks, processing and packaging, final product development, and best practice. Studies on ingredients will evaluate different proteins’ functionality, environmental impact, and ways to enhance consistency and quality. Processing and packaging research will explore scaling up production, increasing yields, reducing costs, and implementing circular processes. Final product development will prioritize improving taste, texture, appearance, and nutritional profile, as well as ensuring product safety. Best practice research will investigate regulators’ information needs, potential impacts on traditional industries and the rural economy, and best strategies for the sector.

The project presents collaboration opportunities for research institutions and UK-based businesses. Dr. Stella Child from GFI Europe lauded this investment in essential research, emphasizing the UK’s potential to lead in the sustainable protein field. However, it is crucial for the government to complement this initiative with favorable regulations to foster a thriving sustainable protein sector.

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