From niche to mainstream – alternative proteins for everybody and everywhere

European consumers are showing an increasing interest in alternative food protein products* as opposed to animal-based foods. This shift in consumer preferences is an excellent opportunity to enhance efforts toward healthier and more sustainable diets, in line with the ambitious EU Green Deal targets outlined in the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Inspired by and capitalising on these developments, the LIKE A PRO project aims to accelerate the shift towards and normalise healthier and more sustainable dietary patterns by diversifying and increasing the availability, accessibility and uptake of alternative sources of protein and specific products.

16 new alternative protein products will be developed during the course of the project, based on ingredients from 7 protein sources which are novel, sustainable, EU-based, healthy, affordable and industry viable. In addition to these products, LIKE A PRO will co-design and promote other type of solutions, such as governance mechanisms which hold the potential to promote alternative protein supply and products in food environments. Examples of these include policies that look at reducing the portfolio of unsustainable products, marketing strategies, guidelines for human-centric campaigns and similar.  Four interlinked and iterative clusters of activities will support reaching out the project goals:

  • Food environments and consumers: In this cluster, the focus is placed on better understanding the consumer behavioural determinants, their food choices and the necessary food environment (contextual) frameworks that enable a higher uptake of alternative protein products.
  • Alternative protein product diversification and development: The central goal of cluster 2 activities is to diversify the alternative protein supply and develop new alternative protein products, thereby increasing the availability and accessibility of such products in the European markets. Best product value propositions will be developed based on consumer, market and regulatory considerations.
  • Mobilising food system actors: The project will work with key food system actors to support them in utilising the project learnings and empower them to make alternative protein products an easy and economically viable choice via their diversified & increased market supply and favourable food environment conditions.
  • Impact and regulatory assessment: This cluster will ensure that the project will bring about positive changes in terms of health and sustainability of the European food system. Socio-economic, health, and environmental impact assessments as well as alignment with regulatory and ethical considerations are central to this cluster.

Within the project, the CSCP is involved across the four clusters in different capacities. In a nutshell, CSCP’s role will cover:

  • Supporting the creation of a better understanding of food environments in Europe, their different typologies as well as readiness to embed and promote alternative sources of protein and products
  • Leading the project activities that deep dive into exploring consumers’ interaction with food environments and understanding the key behavioural determinants towards healthier and more sustainable choices, including the uptake of alternative protein products. The engagement with consumers will be done through living labs established in 11 European countries and covering the diverse food cultures and norms; and behavioural interventions conducted in university canteens, supermarkets, and restaurants. The interventions will also cover citizen’s food choices at home through a targeted social media campaign.
  • Supporting the engagement and capacity building activities with the food system actors and act as a bridge between them and consumers. The CSCP will also act as a national implementer of a large-scale European campaign that aims to raise consumers’ awareness about the impact of meat consumption.
  • Support the socio-economic and environmental assessment, including the nutritional and health impact of the LIKE A PRO developed alternative protein products.

The LIKE A PRO project is funded under the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme and it will be running over a period of 4 years (2022-2026). The project relies on the expertise of a consortium of 42 European partners and affiliates.

* Zafer Bashi, et al. (2019). Alternative proteins: The race for market share is on. McKinsey & Company.