Thursday, March 3, 2016

03/03/2016: Global coalition set to transform the future of protein

Protein is an essential part of the human diet, but the way we produce and consume it today places an increasingly heavy strain on land and sea resources. To tackle these challenges head-on, leading international businesses and NGOs have formed The Protein Challenge 2040, the world’s first collaboration across the protein system that aims to address the question: 
How can we feed nine billion people enough protein in a way that is healthy, affordable and good for the environment?
Facilitated by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, The Protein Challenge 2040 coalition is founded by leading NGOs including WWF and GAIN, retailers Target and Waitrose, leading dairy nutrition firm Volac, taste and flavour experts Firmenich, as well as food manufacturers The Hershey Company and Quorn. It is the first partnership that brings together representatives from animal, plant and alternative protein industries to understand the protein system’s challenges, identify a common way forward and come up with new solutions together.

Through in-depth research and work with food, nutrition, health and technology experts across the world, the coalition has mapped the interrelationships within the entire protein system for the first time. It has pinpointed six areas for innovation, which the group will take immediate action on to meet future demand sustainably. These are:

Areas for immediate action
1. Increasing the proportion of plant-based protein consumption with consumers
2. Scaling up sustainable feed innovation to meet demand for animal protein
3. Closing the protein nutrient loop (Tackling the loss and waste of protein across the system)

Areas being scoped for action
4. Developing indigenous plants as protein sources for local communities
5. Scaling up sustainable aquaculture for food and animal feed
6. Restoring soil health

The coalition is now looking for additional partners with resources, expertise and drive to take action in these areas together.

Andy Richardson, Head of Corporate Affairs at Volac, said: “Protein is essential for human health, but the current state of how it’s produced and consumed is just not sustainable in the long term. The Protein Challenge 2040 is a unique and exciting opportunity for stakeholders across the protein system to address its challenges together and scale up interventions, best practice and innovation.”

Stephanie Draper, Deputy CEO of Forum for the Future, said: “Past debate around the protein system have been extremely polarising, but to make effective progress we need to move beyond that and work together. At Forum we believe that collaborative action is essential in order to address complex issues that no one entity – whether a consumer group, NGO, business or government – can tackle alone. We’re delighted that leaders across the different protein industries are ready and willing to come to a consensus, and are excited to help steer them forward through this unique and growing partnership.”

The production of protein is associated with significant social, environmental and economic impacts – for example the cultivation of soy as animal feed is a big driver of deforestation, and food and agriculture are among the biggest contributors to climate change. Consumption is unbalanced: an estimated 2 billion people suffer from undernutrition[1] which results in major health risks, whilst in the developed world, protein consumption is often more than that required for optimal health[2].

To find out more or be part of The Protein Challenge 2040, contact Simon Billing at
Read about trends and signals of change in the food sector at Forum for the Future’s Futures Centre Protein topic hub HERE.

Read The Protein Challenge 2040 summary report HERE.
Visit the Forum for the Future site HERE.  

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