Protein cluster to accelerate growth of domestic plant-based protein sector

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Cereal Committee, and VTT are launching a joint project aimed at strengthening growth in the development and production of domestic plant-based protein products. The collaboration will help the entire chain from the field to the table to function more efficiently. The work begins in November 2020 with workshop activities aimed at boosting cooperation among the actors and establishing clear procedures. All actors interested in actively participating in the development of the plant-based protein chain are welcome to join.

The food market for plant proteins has grown at the rate of about 7% a year, and the pace is expected to remain at least as high in the coming years. The value of the raw materials and consumer products of plant proteins on the EU market is expected to rise to EUR 1800 million this year. According to the final report on sustainable stimulus, which was produced at the request of the Finnish Government in the autumn of 2020, the development of plant-based proteins and the growing demand for them offers great opportunities for growth for applied research and business.

“Interest in domestically produced plant protein products is growing, and the food industry is also constantly developing new products for the market. There is a market in Finland for a cooperative model for producing and refining plant-based and alternate sources of protein from the field to the table. With this protein cluster we can work together to create growth in the field. Exports of plant protein products also have considerable potential for growth”, says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä.

The purpose of the collaboration that is now being launched in plant-based protein is to bring together actors in the production of raw materials, in the food processing and manufacturing industries, and in the fields of food services and commerce. The collaboration will be launched as part of the Climate Food Programme included in the Government's policy programme. The aim is to support change in society toward a more sustainable food system. 

One example of an impediment to growth is the absence of a Finnish raw material industry from the value chain between primary production and the food industry. Much is now happening in the Finnish plant-based protein field, and the newest information being produced in research and development on identified bottlenecks and the measures required are being utilised.  

The purpose of the cooperation is to develop procedures and value chains, to create new business activities, and to enable the use of plant protein in particular, but also other alternative protein raw materials as food as extensively as possible.

“The goal of the protein cluster is to understand national needs, to come up with ideas about new solutions, and to turn the results of the work into action. The aim is to improve self-sufficiency in the national food system and to expand international business activities”, says Minister Leppä.

Helping in the creation of the cooperative model is the national Food and Beyond ecosystem. Its purpose is to help food systems and their actors develop and grow through cooperation. The development and business of national plant protein is a priority area of the ecosystem, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Cereal Committee and VTT are now utilising this platform for the establishment of the protein cluster. Food and Beyond is bringing a new dimension – continuity – to the project world.

The base of the protein cluster will be developed together with actors in the chain to make the activity productive and meaningful, and to produce added value. The work begins in November 2020 with workshop activities aimed at boosting cooperation among the actors and establishing clear procedures. All active actors who are interested in taking part in the development of the plant-based protein chain are welcome to join this work. 
 

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