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Target, Hershey, Waitrose Join Consortium to Shape Future of Protein

Protein is an essential part of any diet. As the global population surges to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, meeting the world’s demand for protein will become increasingly difficult. Having researched the issue and after working with 200 stakeholders, Forum for the Future is bringing together organisations across the protein system to collaborate as part of The Protein Challenge 2040.

The non-profit is touting the group as “the first global coalition exploring how we [are going to] feed nine billion people enough protein in a way which is affordable, healthy and good for the environment.” In their initial report, 3 goals for 2020 are identified:

  • Raise the profile of protein as an integral and important part of a sustainable food system with key stakeholders, including business and government;
  • Change the conversation around protein: from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sources towards a better balance of sustainable protein; and
  • Catalyse action and increased investment in sustainable solutions, and influenced policy that address key hotspots across the system.

The initial partners include retail giant Target, candy manufacturer Hershey, UK grocer Waitrose, meat-alternative manufacturer Quorn, fragrance and flavour company Firmenich, dairy nutrition firm Volac, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Forum for the Future invites other stakeholders to join the conversation; the consortium is looking for additional collaborators.

“I've never seen so much interest from such a range of people and parts of the system—it's been one of the most enlightening and rewarding aspects of the project,” said Jessica Rosen, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future.

“There is clearly a need to move on from the polarizing debate around animal versus plant-based diets, blaming production versus consumption, and operating in silos. Not surprisingly, we have found that different protein industries have more in common than they think—from waste to feed to constrained natural resources—and there is a huge opportunity to collaborate on solutions. We're excited to take those ideas and turn them into action.”

Over the past year, the consortium mapped “the entire protein system,” and identified several key issues that will need to be addressed, including:

  • Balancing access to good nutrition with sustainable production;
  • Complex interrelationships between the animal, plant and alternative protein industries and their value chains; and
  • The changing diets of people and animals.

The coalition plans to tackle “key hotspots within the protein system, in order to accelerate change at a system level,” by: increasing the proportion of plant-based protein consumption with consumers; scaling up sustainable animal feed innovation to meet demand for animal protein; and closing the protein nutrient loop. The group set targets for 2018 and 2040 for these 3 “areas for immediate action.” In addition, targets for 2040 were also developed for 3 “areas being scoped for action”: the development of indigenous plants as protein sources for local communities; scaling up sustainable aquaculture for food and animal feed; and restoring soil health.

Crickets and algae are leading the charge in the alternative protein market. Today, a cricket flour protein bar startup, Exo, announced the close of a $4 million Series A funding round.