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Introduction

PLENITUDE will build a bio-based value chain based around the installation and operation of a unique, zero-waste process that couples unique, an aerobic fermentation plant that produces a food-grade protein with a conventional first-generation biorefinery. The inputs into the biorefinery are sustainable cereal crops. The PLENITUDE process takes a proportion of the input into the biorefinery as a side-stream to feed an aerobic fermentation process which converts it to mycoprotein, an established high-quality protein used as a meat alternative. The environmental impact of increasing the consumption of meat from livestock is very clear.

– The latest Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) figures suggest that the emissions from livestock equate to 7.1 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent per year which represents 14.5% of all total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Based on substitution of mycoprotein to replace the consumption of protein from livestock, PLENITUDE will deliver reduced CO2 savings equivalent to ~5 tonnes less CO2 emissions for every tonne of mycoprotein consumed (~82% CO2 reduction compared to meat protein), and – The WWF-UK has stated that “A staggering 60 percent of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat.”

A recent publication by the Adam Smith Institute concludes that “Only improved technology will allow us to satisfy the world’s growing demand for meat”. Project PLENITUDE realises the benefits of biotechnology, which combines the use of nature and natural processes to support efficient manufacturing by combining two established processes, to successfully operate a large-scale, first-of-its-kind bio-based value chain producing sustainable, safe food-grade protein.

The challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population is a high-level strategic problem for the member states. The global consumption of “meat” protein is currently around 500 million tonnes per year, and currently, less than 1% of this derived from non-animal sources. Global consumption or protein is projected to double by 2050 and if the increase is met from protein from livestock this has multiple challenges including a significant impact on the environment via CO2 emissions, increasing pressures on land and water use, and challenges with regards a sustainable supply of feedstocks and feedstock security. In response to this, experts including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predict that due to changing consumer behaviours and an increased response to the limitations and inefficiencies of conventional and intensive livestock farming, the demand for non-animal proteins may increase to account for 10 – 20% of total demand which would equate to 100 -200 million tonnes of plant protein needed by 2050*.

Furthermore, according to the European Parliament “The EU is currently suffering from a major deficit in protein production and is dependent on imports from third countries,” creating an urgent need for technological breakthroughs to increase local protein production**. Project PLENITUDE realises the benefits of biotechnology, which combines the use of nature and natural processes to support efficient manufacturing by integrating two established processes into a large-scale, first-of-its-kind, flagship biorefinery producing bioethanol and sustainable food-grade protein. 

Entire Value Chain

The project includes consortium partners covering the entire value chain who combine to:
1. Create new bio-based food products,
o Extending the application of mycoprotein in the Meat Alternative market by working with Vivera, a specialist in chilled and frozen quick to prepare products, including pre-cooked, raw meat products, and meat replacements.
o Creating new products combining meat from livestock with lowest cost protein to provide recognises product formats with reduced environmental impact
o Creating new products that enable the provision of high-quality healthy protein to achieve healthy nutrition without having recourse to mimic the animal
2. Creates new value chains 
o Increasing the market potential for sustainable protein by creating an ambient stable consumer packaging format
o Enhancing the economic viability of cell agriculture by combining a “lowest cost” and most sustainable protein source with culture cells
o Creating a bio-based solution to the challenge of food packaging, by creating a genuinely sustainable bioplastics solution
The project is a cross-sector collaboration involving the biorefinery operator, food producers, and technology providers; delivering low-cost protein in a “zero-waste” process where any of the waste from the fermentation process is re-integrated into the biorefinery and recovered as fuel (bioethanol) or feed (DDGS – Distiller’s Dried Grains and Solubles or CDS – Concentrated Distillers’ Solubles). The production of food protein from low-cost sustainable feedstocks such as wheat create a sustainable solution to protein supply and produce food-grade
protein with a feed conversion ratio that is advantaged to competitive alternatives

 

Novel Valorisation Process 

The fermentation process in PLENITUDE will produce mycoprotein, a high quality ‘complete’ protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, comparable in ‘quality’ to meat and fish, that has long-established consumer acceptance and preference, and is also an excellent source of fiber (6% fiber on a wet weight basis).  The underpinning technology is an integrated system capable of producing and isolating ethanol and mycoprotein from a single crop-based carbohydrate feedstock. The process involves the formation of an aqueous fermentable broth comprising one or more cereal materials. The broth is fermented to obtain mycoprotein which is then separated from the partially fermented broth. The fermentation process can use a single feedstock to produce both mycoprotein and ethanol and the ratios of mycoprotein to ethanol produced can be tailored to suit demand or the current market conditions. The process can be batch, continuous or semi-continuous and is scalable to meet demand. The amount of feedstock diverted from bioethanol production is anticipated to be 2% or less. The process is patented and participant 3F BIO holds an exclusive license so the participants have the freedom to operate. 

The PLENITUDE project will design, build and optimise an efficient, zero-waste, process integrated with a biorefinery to produce food-grade protein alongside the production of bioethanol for transport applications. Product testing and analysis of the materials produced from the pilot plant are being incorporated into a full dossier to reaffirm the exiting regulatory approvals for mycoprotein.

Expected impact
– To increase the availability of sustainable, safe food-grade protein by successfully building and operating alarge-scale, first-of-its-kind bio-based value chain producing safe food-grade protein sourced from sustainable sources such as primary grains (wheat), using an integrated biorefinery setup with initial output capacity of 16k tonnes per annum, which will increase to 50k tonnes by [2025].
To develop the whole value chain from the feedstock supply to processing and production steps in order to create the basis for at least two new bio-based value chains and create at least two new ‘consumer’ products produced from bio-based materials;
To reduce the carbon footprint and impact of the increasing demand for food protein by enabling an alternative to the continued increase in demand for protein from livestock. Consumption of mycoprotein as a kg per kg replacement for meat (based on average consumption levels) equates to a reduction of >80% in carbon emissions, which is >90% if accounting for animal respiration. Based on the target to produce 1M tonnes of protein by 2030, this equates to a reduction of >5M tonnes of carbon emissions
To complete a full assessment of the environmental, economic, health and social impacts of the developed products or processes, using LCA/LCC/S-LCA methodologies based on available standards to validate the sustainability and food safety of the products and value chain.

* Protein Ingredient market: Frost and Sullivan
** http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20180320IPR00102/proteins-robust-strategy-needed-to-reduce-eus-dependency-on-imports-say-meps