Ctic Cita leads a 14€M EU-funded project focused on shifting promising alternative proteins and products from niche to mainstream

Ctic Cita leads a 14€M EU-funded project focused on shifting promising alternative proteins and products from niche to mainstream

LIKE-A-PRO WILL WORK TO ENSURE THAT ALTERNATIVE PROTEINS ARE AVAILABLE TO ALL POPULATION GROUPS – FROM CHILDREN TO THE ELDERLY – AND IN ALL REGIONS, INCLUDING RURAL AREAS.

European consumers are showing a growing interest in the inclusion of alternative proteins in their diets as a viable and sustainable alternative to conventional animal-based foods. The growing attraction of consumers to such products is seen as the perfect pathway to a more sustainable and healthier European diet.

However, to date, animal products contribute around 67% of protein intake, representing an essential part of our diet.

While consumer willingness to reduce animal protein consumption is more than evident, more efforts are needed to facilitate and accelerate the protein switch by offering a wide range of possibilities that will appeal to even the most reluctant consumer.

However, the integration of alternative proteins is hampered by difficulties in the product development phase, resulting in limited availability and accessibility of acceptable products. Europeans seeking alternative protein food products are faced with limited choices, in terms of product types, protein sources, flavours and textures.

Soy, for example, is the main protein source used in such products, but it is not an option for everyone, ranking among the top 14 allergens.

This is compounded by the fact that many alternative protein products do not appeal to consumers because of their unbalanced nutritional profile, strange flavours and unpalatable textures.

This limits the interest of the consumer and the manufacturer, who, when developing this type of product, is faced with the functional limitations of alternative proteins (gelling, emulsification, fat binding, etc.). It is precisely these limitations that explain why the vast majority of products currently available on the shelves contain a long list of ingredients, mainly additives to improve texture and flavour.

To enable a change in the protein diet, the food industry must focus on the diversification of alternative protein sources and the development of attractive new products, thus meeting consumer demands in terms of increased choice and product quality. This is precisely the objective of LIKE-A-PRO, a project coordinated by the CTIC CITA Technology Centre, whose consortium is made up of 42 partners from 14 different European countries.

The aim of LIKE-A-PRO is to facilitate sustainable and healthy diets by transforming the alternative protein market, with the development of high-protein products that are more available, accessible and acceptable to all population groups, regardless of location or socio-economic level. To this end, 16 innovative alternative protein products will be developed from 7 novel and optimised protein sources.

To achieve this goal, the LIKE-A-PRO consortium involves 42 organisations, representatives of the entire alternative protein value chain (protein producers, ingredient and product developers, culinary centres, food clusters), scientists and communication experts.

Innovative, sustainable, local, affordable and industrially viable are the parameters that will mark the development of these 16 products, ensuring their successful market launch.

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