The EU’s flagship research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, has announced €25 million in funding for research into sustainable proteins.
Horizon’s 2023-24 work programme will feature three multi-million-euro projects which directly cover sustainable proteins, in particular using cell cultivation and fermentation technologies.
Compared with conventional production, estimates suggest cultivated meat could cut the climate impact of meat by up to 92%, while using up to 95% less land and 78% less water.
The three projects established by Horizon are:
- Cultured meat and cultured seafood – state of play and future prospects in the EU: this programme calls for ideas focussed on how to reduce the high costs of infrastructure and raw materials currently needed for cultivated meat, as well as how to scale up such production in a cost effective way. Additionally, inquiries into how to boost consumer acceptance of the technology are also sought. Some €7 million is earmarked for funding.
- Microbiome for flavour and texture in the organoleptic dietary shift: this call out for ideas includes creating fermentation-based ingredients to improve the flavours and textures of plant-based meat, dairy and fish products, piloting new precision fermentation techniques and developing new biomass production methods. A total of €9 million is budgeted for funding.
- Impact of the development of novel foods based on alternative sources of proteins: this working stream will call for ideas assessing the potential of foods including algae-based products and microbial proteins to address European Green Deal objectives, including environmental goals, compared to conventional meat and dairy, as well as their production cost and consumer acceptance. €9 million is set aside for funding.
News of the funding has been welcomed by the Good Food Institute. Acacia Smith, Senior Policy Manager at GFI Europe, said: “Europe is home to some of the world’s best scientists, and this funding will help spark real innovation in cultivated meat and fermentation, making sure these sustainable foods are delicious and accessible to nearly half a billion Europeans.
“It’s great to see the EU is investing in the continent’s incredible research expertise to accelerate Europe’s shift to a sustainable, secure and just food system and make sure farmers are part of this transition. We now need to see national governments following this example and investing in the research and infrastructure needed to advance these foods.”
Those wishing to submit an application for funding, or learn more about the individual programmes, should visit the European Commission website.
The future of food will need to be sustainable if the world is to deal with the climate crisis. Food Matters Live’s 2023 Sustainable Food Forum will showcase the best of the environmentally conscious food industry.