28 Apr Opportunities of Disruption for the Food Industry in Protein Production
When referring to the feeding of an increasing population expected to reach 9 billion in 2050 with the necessary nutrients, the food industry faces a huge challenge in the coming years. But it also is in front of important opportunities to change the way we produce, process and consume food. Different initiatives and ideas focusing on protein production have an interesting potential regarding the possibility of generating innovations able to disrupt this sector. Here are three of them: Getting protein from plants, from insects and from fuel.
Proteins from plants. The environmental impact of the production of meat and the creation of healthier foods are some of the challenges behind the motivations of some food startups working on the creation of plant-based replacements of meat. This is the case of the company Hampton Creek, which has developed Beyond Eggs, an egg substitute made from plants that maintains the properties of an egg and can be used in cooking for preparing cakes or muffins.
Likewise, Beyond Meat is another company that has removed the chicken from the equation. They are focused on the replication of the chicken properties, similar nutrition profile, texture and performance, also using vegetables. These are two projects to pay attention to and on which we went more in depth in a previous post entitled “Innovation for Reinventing Food”.
Proteins from insects. According to FAO, 70% of the world’s lands nowadays are intended to produce livestock while people in undeveloped and emerging countries, such as China or India, still suffer from a protein gap, with a consumption of 25 kg. annually per person while the average in western countries is 80 . Moreover, it is estimated that two billion people worldwide currently include insects in their diets.
Different projects are promoting the consumption of insects as a way to reach the optimal levels of protein consumption with less environmental impact. This approach can innovate the dietary habits of western people but also bring new food products into the market. This trend is not only about rearing insects on farms for human consumption, companies such as Chirp Farms, are working on products like cricket flour that can meet the demand of a balanced protein diet, avoiding apprehension of Western diners to eat the insect directly. To pursue the subject you can also check out other previous posts from this blog: “Insects: Innovation to Produce Food Proteins for an Increasing Population”.
Proteins from fuel. The production of proteins from fuel was studied by different companies in the late 1960s until the oil-shock of 1973, and was suggested recently as an option to consider by the Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé S.A, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, in his blog on Linkedin. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is a known opponent of the use of food to produce fuel, mainly because of the huge impact it has on water consumption. In his post (“Food from fuel“), he presents a project in cooperation between Nestlé and Exxon as a case study to draw some basic learning and conclusions about this protein production option. We recommend you to have a look at the post.