Protein Diversification Think Tank Policy Brief on Accelerating Protein Diversification for Europe
Accelerating Protein Diversification for Europe is a policy brief on protein diversification, presenting a summary of policy recommendations aimed at accelerating progress towards a transformative shift in how we produce and consume protein. It has been developed by the EIT Food Protein Diversification Think Tank in consultation with experts and stakeholders across the sector.
As Europe enters the next phase of the Green Deal, decarbonising the agricultural and food industries will be essential to meet the EU’s 2040 climate target. Currently, the food system contributes to an alarming 26-34% of greenhouse gas emissions and 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication. Now, more than ever, it's essential to transition towards a sustainable food system. Yet, within the realm of food systems, there is an opportunity for change.
Protein diversification offers an innovative approach, reevaluating how we produce and consume protein sources. It's time to shift away from resource-intensive animal-based proteins and embrace more sustainable alternatives. Protein diversification is the most effective investment in reducing our climate impact, offering the highest greenhouse gas emission reduction for every euro invested, compared to any other industry.
As Europe takes vital steps towards a greener future, it's imperative for us to lead, not lag behind. 2023 marked a turning point for protein diversification, with growing recognition on political agendas and regulatory applications worldwide. Denmark has recently published the first ever national action plan for transitioning to more plant-based foods, while France and the Netherlands committed significant R&I funds. Now, it's Europe's moment to shine and reshape food systems globally.
The paper presents a comprehensive set of recommendations, advocating for a systems thinking approach and acknowledging the importance of engaging with the entire food system. Here is an overview of the recommendations:
- Systems thinking: Success in diversifying protein is impacted by many factors and it must be seen as part of a complex and dynamic food system. Systems solutions will require collaboration across the entire food value chain to achieve widespread adoption and inter/trans-disciplinary research.
- Enabling policy environments: EU-level future policies, starting with the EU Protein Strategy, must foster the evolution of alternative protein sources.
- Regulation: To achieve the full economic, environmental, and societal benefits of protein diversification and to establish itself as a global leader in this space, the EU must assess how its various regulatory frameworks are either hindering or enabling innovation.
- Farming: Farmers remain essential in providing the key ingredients for alternative proteins.. Beyond being part of dialogues and transition planning, farmers should be awarded substantial support by governments in research, development, and de-risking investments.
- Research, development, and innovation (RDI): Protein diversification must be sufficiently funded by governments, as public financing can drive long-term RDI into societal topics such as environmental sustainability and can mitigate risks for private investors.
- Going to market: We must also consider the broader food environments within which these alternatives exist. This includes considerations around availability, affordability, and cultural preferences, and necessitates a wide range of policy measures from information to competitive pricing.
- Education and training: The food industry and sector require a larger workforce, and to continuously attract and retain talent, comprehensive education, capacity building and training programmes are needed, covering a wide range of disciplines and sectors.
Read the Policy Brief and join the discussion on the future of protein!
Read more about the EIT Food Protein Diversification Think Tank: EIT Food Protein Diversification Think Tank