Unlocking lupin’s potential to transform the UK protein market

INVESTIGATING whether lupin can become a sustainable alternative for imported soya is being explored in a new collaborative project, part of the sustainable farm-based protein competition funded by Defra and delivered by Innovate UK.

At present lupin is considered an underutilised crop in the UK despite its high protein content and dietary fibre alongside low carbohydrate and fat content. However, this legume crop offers a promising alternative to soybean.

David McNaughton, Managing Director of Soya UK, said: “The UK imports over 3 million tonnes of soya each year, and we have known for a long time that lupins have great potential to replace a significant part of that imported soya tonnage.

“This project will hopefully bring that potential to full fruition, and with it, we can see greater benefits in terms of de-carbonising the UK protein supply.”

The two-year feasibility study is being led by Crop Health and Production (CHAP) in partnership with Phytoform Labs LTD and Soya UK Limited.

Work will focus on implementing regenerative agriculture practices to decarbonise lupin production, and exploring trait enhancements through genetic editing techniques, as well as evaluating sustainability metrics.

Supporting farmers and growers with lupin adoption will also be pivotal and as such involvement of farmers in field trials enabling peer to peer learning will be an important part of the project.

Nicolas Kral, Co-founder and CTO at Phytoform Labs, added: “Lupin has a staggering potential, but genetic improvements are needed for it to be a competitive protein commodity. Thanks to the funding from Defra, we can assess the feasibility of novel breeding technologies to improve lupin genetics for sustainable protein production in the UK.”

Dr Jemma Taylor, Research Associate at CHAP, said: “By enhancing the sustainability of lupin cultivation in the UK, this project will accelerate the journey towards reaching net zero in protein feed production whilst supporting British farmers.

“Given the ever-increasing demand for high-protein diets for livestock, reducing reliance on imported soya-based feedstock is crucial. This is where lupin, an under-utilised crop in the UK, comes in with a great potential of transforming the landscape and pave the way for a more sustainable future for feed production.”


The project is funded by Defra though the Farming Innovation Programme and delivered by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production challenge.

For more information about this project, contact CHAP at enquiries@chap-solutions.co.uk.