THE PLANT PROTEIN FACTORY – PART OF THE SOLUTION TO THE GLOBAL FOOD PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE?
SLU Holding Interviews Carl Jonson, a business developer in Alnarp, about an exciting preliminary study of how to extract plant proteins for the food of the future. A method that could in future allow extraction of locally produced sustainable plant proteins, as well as the soy option.
“The earth's population will have increased by an estimated 33% by the year 2050. In future we will thus need to be far more efficient at food production, so there will be enough food for everyone. The volume of food produced thus needs to increase by 70% (according to the FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) in order to supply a global population of what will then be 9.7 billion. We also need to take climate change into account and find raw materials that require fewer natural resources in order to become food. Part of the solution is finding high-protein crops to supplement and replace animal protein. To cope with this we need to adopt a new approach in line with the climate. That’s what the researchers and companies taking part in the preliminary study The Plant Protein Factory have done," says Carl Jonson.
The basic idea for The Plant Protein Factory comes from SLU and The Department of Plant Breeding. The idea is in part based on taking advantage of all the green forage and its nutrients that are currently discarded or at best become biogas, and on developing new processes of extraction of nutrients and proteins before anaerobic digestion at biogas plants.
Challenges in production processes and surplus material
DThe major challenges are to develop profitable production processes and be able to utilise the surplus material created. Only extracting plant proteins is probably not profitable; other nutrients need to be utilised, and customised proteins need modifying and developing. To test this, the researchers have now specified a pilot plant and selected suitable green forage with a relatively high protein and nutrient content.
SLU Holding’s rol
SLU Holding has been an initiator, advisor and participant in the application process at Vinnova, and has brought key actors to the project. SLU Holding has also helped in terms of agreements, and has produced informational material.
The vision of The Plant Protein Factory
The vision is to become a new supplier of raw material, providing locally produced, allergen-free plant protein for the food, cosmetics, animal-feed and health-food markets. This would mean that in the future other sustainable plant proteins will enter the market, as well as soy as an option.
Carl notes that local allergen-free plant protein can work in more places as a global concept – something that would benefit both food production and the climate. Plus there is a trend for healthy living, veganism and vegetarianism that is Completetly in line with what The Plant Protein Factory wants to contribute to!