Smart Protein for a Changing World. Future-proof alternative terrestrial protein sources for human nutrition encouraging environment regeneration, processing feasibility and consumer trust and accepta

01 January 2020 → 30 June 2024
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Agricultural and natural resource economics, environmental and ecological economics
    • Logistics and supply chain management
    • Consumer behaviour
    • Market research
    • Micro-based behavioural economics
Other information
Project description

It is undeniable that protein is an indispensable part of the human diet, but the way we produce and consume it today presents many challenges, in terms of both global consumption patterns and their social, environmental and economic impacts. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is therefore an immediate challenge. SMART PROTEIN aims to industrially validate and demonstrate innovative, cost-effective and resource-efficient, EU-produced, nutritious plant (fava bean, lentil, chickpea, quinoa) and microbial biomass proteins from edible fungi by up-cycling side streams from pasta (pasta residues), bread (bread crust) and beer (spent yeast and malting rootlets) industries. The alternative SMART protein will be used for the production of ingredients and products for direct human consumption, through developing future-proofed protein supply chains with a positive impact on bio-economy, environment, biodiversity, human nutrition, food and nutrition security and consumer trust and acceptance. These priorities will be addressed through global partnerships forged with consortium members from Europe, North America, Israel, Thailand and New Zealand to develop and demonstrate a climate-smart, sustainable protein-food system for a healthy Europe. We will harness plant and microbial protein knowledge to significantly enhance the sustainability and resilience of a new European protein supply chain, improve professional skills and competencies, and support the creation of new jobs in the food sector and bioeconomy.

Role of Ghent University
Ghent University is mainly involved in the research activities related to consumer and sensory acceptance, as well as life cycle cost analysis. In particular, UGent will be responsible for the pan-European consumer survey and the consumer sensory study in Belgium, and contribute to the broad consumer trends and benchmarking study, as well as behavioral intervention experiments on plant-based food choice. In addition, UGent will be participant in sustainability analysis, with a particular focus on stakeholder analysis of selected protein value chains.