IPSUS

Climate smart food innovation using plant and seaweed proteins from upcycled sources

Scientific abstract
Food choices impact human and planetary health. The negative environmental impacts of the food system, increasing food insecurity and the prevalence of unhealthy diets are driving policymakers, scientists, companies and consumers to demand sustainable solutions. Globally, livestock emits 14.5% of GHGs, is associated to 30% of biodiversity loss, and, with meat demand is projected to double by 2050, transitioning to diets that include more sustainable sources of protein is crucial. Plant-based proteins are currently the fastest growing food trend but are unsustainably dependent on soy.

The IPSUS project will exploit inter-disciplinary and eco-innovative approaches to upcycle plant and seaweed proteins from agri-food raw materials otherwise destined to join the ~1.6 billion tonnes of annual global food loss and waste (FLW). The quantity, quality, and upcycling opportunities of six protein-rich FLWs (pumpkin, hazelnut, grape, potato, brewers' spent grain, and seaweeds) across the value chains will be investigated in the UK, Italy, Romania, Turkey, and Morocco to address Net Zero opportunity by linking sustainable protein shift and food waste valorisation. Novel protein extraction methods will be assessed to identify and optimise the less energy and more sustainable techniques. The nutritional quality and safety of the plant and seaweed sources and upcycled proteins will be assessed, taking bio-accessibility and potential allergenicity into account. In addition, incorporation of upcycled proteins into meat alternative and dairy alternative formulations will be tested at lab-scale, followed by prototype development at pilot-scale by the industrial partners. Functional and sensory acceptability of the prototypes will be evaluated along with the improved nutritional (low salt/sugar/fat) and cleaner label (fewer food additives) offerings which are currently lacking in the plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Exploration of consumer behaviours, preferences and the enabling regulatory and policy environment will reveal drivers and barriers of the sustainable protein shift via upcycled plant proteins.

Key words: Food loss & waste, upcycled plant proteins, plant-based food, meat alternative, dairy alternative, sustainable protein shift, Net Zero

This project is funded by the 2021 joint call of FOSC and SUSFOOD2.