ScenoProt, a project involving futurologists, marketing professionals, product developers and scientists, aims to increase Finland’s protein self-sufficiency by at least 40% over the next 15 years. It is dedicated to changing the current unsustainable protein landscape.
The ScenoProt project is set to span 6 years with 8 million euros in funding, coordinated by Finland’s Natural Resources Institute (aka Luke). It aims to have local protein from alternative sources such as insects, mushrooms, and processed raw vegetables on Finnish shelves and into popular consumer diets by 2030.
“Foodstuffs developed in the course of the project will be turned into products, making them well-known brands that are attractive to consumers,” says ScenoProt’s principal research scientist. These products will provide a healthy and sustainable option for Finish and ultimately global markets.
Protein production is currently less than 20% self-sufficient in Finland, and the EU as a whole is not faring much better with only 30% self-sufficiency for protein production. ScenoProt seeks to make big changes, increasing Finland’s self-sufficiency from less than 20% to 60%, and thereby setting a precedent the rest of Europe can follow.
While there have been many initiatives in novel protein sources launched in the past decade, this is the first large, comprehensive project spanning from theories to products, looking at scalability and consumer wants. ScenoProt's focus on local alternative protein has potential benefits for health, food security and emissions reductions, and could mitigate climate risk by introducing innovative foodstuffs that provide a ready supply of sustainable protein.
While your beef may say it’s from Britain or Australia, the origin of the protein fed to the cattle could be thousands of miles away.
Rising soy consumption, a major cause for deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and a significant contributor to accelerating climate change, poses a real environmental problem. While you may think of soy in the form of soy milk and tofu, 75% of globally produced soy is used for animal feed and 93% of the soy consumed by Europeans is by way of animals that ate it as feed. Today, the EU imports more than 35 million tons of soy each year, accounting for 70% of the protein required for livestock. An area of nearly 15 million ha is used, 13 million ha of which is in South America (most notably Brazil), to satisfy demand in Europe.
The heavy reliance on imported soya beans currently seen in Europe sets the EU up for vulnerability with both price and availability of foreign soya. Demand for soy continues to increase in China as meat consumption booms. This could lead to an increased price of soy, affecting livestock farmers worldwide who are accustomed to cheap soy feed, or could also create an incentive for expanding areas used for farming soy in South America, continuing to force climate change.
The project will provide interesting insights into what sources of protein fare in the Finnish climate, how land usage changes, and which new products are widely accepted by the market.
Will other countries benefit from the high cost of R&D absorbed by Luke to run Scenoprot? Or will lack of investment prove an obstacle to scale for the solutions?
Image Credit: [Shira Gal] / Flickr
Luke: Natural Resources Institute Finland (30 October 2015) 'In 2030, we will have local protein on our plate'
Food Navigator (5 November 2015) 'ScenoProt project will boost local protein production for real sustainability'