Corporate Engagement

Smart Protein: Moving towards sustainable alternative protein products

Today, on World Vegetarian Day, ProVeg International and GFI are extremely proud to announce a groundbreaking new project, Smart Protein, which will be launching in 2020.

Smart Protein is a four-year, €9.6 million collaboration between 33 partners across 21 countries to develop novel proteins using byproducts from pasta, bread, and beer production – ingredients that are not currently widely used in food production. Innovation is at the heart of Smart Protein. The aim is to produce an entirely new range of sustainable, nutritious, and cost-effective protein-rich foods.

Why Smart Protein?

Alternative protein sources are desperately needed if we are to seriously address some of the most urgent challenges posed by the global food system in terms of climate change, environmental degradation, food security, and public health.

What kinds of products will be produced?

The plan is to produce plant-based meats, fish, seafood, cheese, infant formula, and other dairy products, as well as baked goods.

How are they made?

Our unique, highly innovative approach focuses on byproducts and residues, ingredients that are typically used in animal feed. Pasta residues, bread crusts, and spent yeast and malting rootlets from beer production will instead be reintegrated into the food stream for human consumption, using an upcycling process. This upcycling will allow us to use our agricultural resources more efficiently as they will be used to feed humans directly rather than consumed by livestock.

Novel protein products will also be developed from plants, including fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa – with a focus on improving the structure, taste, and flavour.

When will we see these products?

It is expected that the first wave of products will go to market in or around 2025. Smart Protein is a four-year project, starting on 1 January 2020.

How is Smart Protein funded, and what’s the budget?

Smart Protein has a total budget of €9.6 million, €8.2 million of which is provided by the European Commission.

Who else is taking part in Smart Protein?

ProVeg International and GFI are two of a total of 33 partners from industry, research, and academia across 21 different countries collaborating on the project, which is led by the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Cork in Ireland. Other major collaborators include Fraunhofer, the University of Copenhagen, Barilla, Thai Union, and AB InBev.


Smart Protein will be advised by a stakeholder advisory board comprising experts and organisations from across the entire supply chain. The board is open for new members to join. If you are interested in joining, then please contact ProVeg International.

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