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UCC will lead a new research project, aimed at creating new protein rich food products made from plants, fungi and byproducts.
UCC will lead a new research project, aimed at creating new protein rich food products made from plants, fungi and byproducts.
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UCC project aims to create new foods from waste byproducts

A UCC project will aim to make protein-rich food products from leftovers usually used to make animal feed.

The School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Cork will lead the research project worth almost €10 million.

The aim of the research is to create new protein-rich food products made from plants, fungi and byproducts.

Entitled 'Smart Protein', the project, which will commence in January, is mostly funded by the European Commission who has contributed €8.2 million of the €9.6 million budget.

The additional €1.4 million has been supplied by industry partners.

Smart Protein's approach and strategy are unique in that the key focus is on byproducts and residues, ingredients that are usually reserved for animal feed.

The new project will seek to harness pasta residues, spent yeast and malting rootlets to create new food products.

One of the project's primary aims is to help build a future-proof protein supply by creating sustainable and nutritious alternative proteins.

This is in direct response to some of the most urgent challenges faced by the planet, including climate change and global food security.

Verena Wiederkehr, International Head of Food Industry and Retail for ProVeg International commented:

"These innovative techniques and processes have not been deployed on a project of this type and scale before and the potential positive impact for the planet cannot be underestimated.

"By upcycling byproducts and residues to produce edible protein for human consumption, we are taking huge strides toward a much-needed circular economy that can truly feed our rapidly-growing population."

ProVeg International, along with 32 other industry, research and academic partners, across 21 countries will collaborate with University College Cork in creating these new food products which are forecasted to be on shelves by 2025. 

These products will include plant-based meats, fish, dairy products and baked goods.

Dr Emanuele Zannini, Senior Research Officer with UCC and the Lead Coordinator of Smart Protein says the project has the potential to be revolutionary:

"With the Smart Protein project, we are reconsidering the entire protein value chain from production to consumption in terms of both productive and environmental performance."

The project will also look at alternative agricultural practices to "help farmers' long-term financial futures".