Great expectations: the UK’s alternative protein supply chain

Opportunities to grow and develop the UK’s alternative protein supply chain were explored during a recent collaborative workshop.

The online session, organised by agri-tech innovation centre Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), was split into two parts – guest speaker presentations and interactive ‘sandpit’ break-outs.

The aim was to dive deeper into the complexities of the alternative protein sector, and to scope out potential areas for cross-industry collaboration to address current challenges.

Innovation Sector Lead, Dr Réka Haraszi, is an expert in this strategic area of focus for CHAP. She said: “Globally, the alternative protein sector has seen substantial growth, supported by both innovation and investments in food technology.

“But challenges remain around how we can scale up production, in order to ensure healthy and nutritious diets for the world’s growing population.

“This exclusive workshop welcomed breeders, manufacturers, researchers and growers to explore how we might overcome those challenges in a collaborative manner.”

The guest speaker presentations began with Dr Alexandra Sexton from the University of Sheffield and Food Ethics Council, who spoke about the transition to alternative proteins in the UK. This was followed by Professor Claire Domoney from the John Innes Centre who discussed plant breeding, and Roger Vickers from PGRO who provided a grower’s insight.

Mike Adams of Campden BRI provided insight on opportunities in the food and drink industry, and Dr Neil Stephens spoke about the legislative challenges of the cultured meat sector. This was then rounded up by case studies provided by Dr Reza Ranjbar from CPI and Mark Horler from the Soya Project.

The second part of the workshop saw the group divide into ‘sandpit’ sessions on different sub-themes – ingredient manufacturing and processing facilities, CEA protein crops, and legumes & pulses diversification.

Dr Haraszi added: “We were pleased to see the beginnings of new collaborations during the sandpit sessions, which is an important element of CHAP’s work – building new networks between stakeholders.

“Excitingly, ideas were also sparked for potential future projects, which will be key in delivering solutions to the challenges being experienced in the sector.”

CHAP is now discussing a follow-up workshop on alternative proteins, to be held later this year. To register your interest, e-mail enquiries@chap-solutions.co.uk