8 December 2015

Pioneering crops for future generations


By 2050, the global population is expected to increase to 9.6 billion people. The world will need more nutritious, affordable, and environmentally sustainable food - exactly what the EU funded project PROTEIN2FOOD has committed to. Led by the University of Copenhagen, a team of 19 partner institutions from 13 countries will create innovative, high quality, protein-rich food crops, to sustain human health, the environment, and biodiversity.

By Mette Buch Jensen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen

Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, is a partner in a new EU project PROTEIN2FOOD to develop new plants with lots of protein, so the production of plant protein in Europe will be increased by 25% for the benefit of the environment, biodiversity and health.

Crops of high protein value should be common in our diet

Proteins from animal sources have a large impact on the planet in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and usage of land and water. Therefore PROTEIN2FOOD will develop attractive food protein from crops of high protein quality (quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat) and grain legumes (lupin, faba bean, chickpea and lentil) through sustainable production and processing methods.

These crops have a high nutritional value, and increased consumption will positively impact biodiversity and climate change. Current consumption and use of these crops as food ingredients and raw materials is, at present, almost negligible in the European diet.

PROTEIN2FOOD has set the ambitious goal to increase the protein production by 25% with novel and improved breeding techniques and crop management, while also increasing Europe’s arable land intended for protein-crop production by 10%.

From animal-based to plant-based protein consumption

This will improve European protein self-sufficiency, positively impact the bioeconomy (the parts of the economy using renewable biological resources), and accelerate the transition in consumption of animal-based to plant-based protein in Europe with a clear impact on reducing the carbon footprint and on increasing more sustainable food consumption patterns.

“PROTEIN2FOOD will put Europe on the map in terms of innovative food processing and technology, and increase agro-biodiversity by introducing crops for new protein-rich foods with a viable market potential”, said Sven-Erik Jacobsen, coordinator of the project and from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

As an end results PROTEIN2FOOD will make prototypes of a new product range of vegetarian products with high consumer acceptance, such as protein rich, gluten‐free pasta and bakery products, vegan spreadable meat alternatives, extruded products (breakfast cereals and meat analogues), protein bars for sports nutrition, and infant food.


PROTEIN2FOOD has been awarded funding from the EU research and innovation framework programme, Horizon2020, under the Societal Challenge 2 – Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy. Grant agreement No 635727.

The PROTEIN2FOOD project started in April 2015 and will be running for five years. The research and activities conducted are divided over six areas, headed by world-wide leading institutions. These areas are Crop production, Protein extraction and processing, Food processing, Market analysis, Sustainability assessment, and Communication, dissemination and social innovation.

For more information, please visit: www.protein2food.eu