The market for plant-based proteins is booming.

But at present the EU imports 80% of all protein crops, and that figure is still rising.

Alternative sources of protein, which are more sustainable and can be produced locally, are therefore desperately needed to wipe out this deficit. 

Fortunately, EU researchers and companies are busy finding creative solutions to this problem.

A number of the most promising were presented last week during The eWorkshop on Upcycled Proteins:

Proteins from industry by-products

In the Netherlands a demo-plant has been established to extract food grade proteins from sugar beet leaves.

The initiative is being led by Cosun, an agricultural cooperative, within the framework of the GreenProtein project.

Meanwhile, partners in the Pro-Enrich project are developing a flexible biorefinery approach to convert various agricultural residues into alternative sources of protein.

Within the project four types of waste are being investigated, from rapeseed meal, olives, tomatoes and citrus fruit industries.

Proteins from urban biowaste

Insects grown on food waste is also considered as a potential sustainable protein source.

A start to end insect rearing and fractionation plant is being developed by UNIMORE and Kour Energy within the SCALIBUR project. They are working with Zetadec and Nutrition Sciences to develop novel food and feed products. 

In Spain, another company – Entomo Agroindustrial – is working on a similar concept to valorise organic matter using Black Soldier Fly.

Entomo are a partner in the ValueWaste project together with Unibio, a Danish company who are developing a technology to derive protein for food and feed applications from biogas (methane).

You can download all the presentations from the eWorkshop here: