Is 2024 to Be the Year of the Alternative Proteins Arms Race Between the UK and the EU?

As we have reported, the UK government has led the way on investment in alternative protein research in 2023, but it would seem that the EU is now starting its engines for what may be the start of an investment arms-race.

The EU is set to invest €50m ($54.9m) next year to help precision fermentation start-ups scale-up the production of alternative proteins. The investment will come through the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Work Programme 2024, under the EU’s Horizon Europe project. It will aim to “improve the sustainability, efficiency and resilience of the European food supply chain through decoupling food production from the soil and minimising environmental impacts including water pollution”.

The EIC said in a statement the work programme will open up “funding opportunities” worth more than €1.2bn. When discussing precision fermentation options, the EIC stated it seeks to “support radical technological innovation with possible disruptive effects on existing markets to secure additional food sources, while preserving the environment and supporting biodiversity” and “Viable alternatives are critical to address challenges linked to climate change and the environment, including biodiversity loss and pollution. In doing so, this challenge will foster EU technological autonomy and leadership in delivering scalable food production processes that can generate benefits to consumers in Europe and beyond. Further, the development of novel foods and processes may also help provide consumers with healthier alternatives, thereby decreasing the incidence of food-related health conditions amongst the general population.”