Sustainability assessment of alternative protein sources
The project on integrated sustainability assessment of alternative protein sources and analogues and transformation pathways of two selected alternatives started in December 2022 and is carried out on behalf of the German Federal Environment Agency (FKZ 3722 11 101 0). Together with the German Institute of Food Technology from Quakenbrück and the Institute for Social Innovation from Berlin, corsus (project management) is compiling an up-to-date overview of raw materials, processes and products in the context of alternative protein sources and analogues and is conducting a sustainability assessment of selected protein sources and substitutes. On this basis, the probability of diffusion is presented as well as the sustainability impacts of 20 selected alternative protein sources.
First, the probability of diffusion of individual alternative protein sources is investigated. In this way, it can be determined how likely it is that certain products and raw materials will become established in the long term in the future. The raw materials, processes and products considered are classified and evaluated according to various criteria describing, for example, acceptance, technological development or the current legal situation. Selected alternative protein sources and analogues whose diffusion is considered likely are evaluated in the next step with regard to their sustainability. At this point, the desirability of these developments for society, health, animal welfare and the environment is assessed.
Insects, for example, have many advantages over “conventional” protein sources. They require little space, can be fed on food waste, are high in nutrients and low in fat, require comparatively little water to raise, and can be 100% utilized. However, the idea of eating insects takes some getting used to for many Europeans, the taste is not to everyone’s liking and insects are completely unsuitable for vegan and vegetarian people. Therefore, many other protein sources and substitutes, such as yeast, mushrooms, tofu, algae or duckweed are included. Traditional and modern production methods, such as fermentation or cell-based agriculture, will also be investigated. The estimated probability for societal establishment is compared to the expected sustainability impacts. In this way, an up-to-date and scientifically sound overview of the variety of alternative protein sources and substitutes that can lead to a reduction in the consumption of conventional protein sources and associated negative sustainability impacts will be created. The project will run until the beginning of 2025 and the results will be published in an accessible, easy-to-understand and freely available technical brochure.
contact person for the project at corsus is Julian Quandt