9 Jan 2017

Natural capital & protein crops

Gain insights with 'Protein selection chart'

Commissioned by Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) and Vivera (producer of vegetarian products) Blonk Consultants developed an 'Protein selection chart'

In order to develop meat substitutes and hybride products (vegetable) protein sources are needed. Each vegetable protein source has different characteristics. Insights in these characteristics are important to be able to make conscious decisions regarding raw material policies and natural capital. The Protein selection chart gives this information. It is an overview of the various financial, environmental and technical aspects of 10 new sources of vegetable proteins, cultivated in the Netherlands. This information provides guidelines to producers of meat substitutes and hybride products to research applications of new promising protein sources. Eventually, this will lead to a more sustainable product portfolio and product innovations.

What is Natural Capital?

Natural Capital is the stock of natural resources, such as plants, animals, water, soil and minerals. Together they provide goods and services that form the basis of our economy and our well-being (Dutch Platform for Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Economy (Platform BEE), 2016)

In this context Natural Capital is quantified by the impact indicator biodiversity.

Aim of the 'Protein selection chart':
provide guidelines to the selection of ingredients, knowledge counter for protein transition, starting point for cooperation and new initiatives.

Selection of 10 protein crops

The following protein crops, produced in the Netherlands, are selected and researched:

  • Soy
  • Lupine
  • Yellow pea
  • Lucerne
  • Potato
  • Chick pea
  • Broad bean
  • Rapeseed
  • Water lentils
  • Algae

Insight: guidelines for the application of new protein crops

The Protein selection chart is a digital document. It gives an overview of each crop related to technical aspects, environmental aspects and financial aspects. The crops are compared to two benchmarks: soy protein concentrate and soy protein isolate, both cultivated in Brazil. The map reveals information on topics, such as availability in the market, market price, environmental impact (climate change, land use), biodiversity, taste and technical features, such as the potential to create protein fibers, and admission to the European market. On the basis of this information new meat substitutes or hybrid products can be developed.

Experts & research method

For the information collection various methods and experts from the field are used.

  • Impact on natural capital (important component: biodiversity): the research method Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used. An LCA gives an overview of the complete supply chain and gives a certain score to biodiversity loss. This is based on ReCiPe (an LCIA methodology), which takes various impact categories into account. For instance climate change, acidification, eutrophication and fossil depletion.
  • Financial feasibility: the map gives insights in the feasibility throughout the supply chain. The following questions are important: is the protein crop already available, or is it a new product? Does the protein crop fit within the cultivation plan of farmers, production scale and price?.
  • Technology for cultivation and processing: for the cultivation and processing of the crops certain technologies are needed. Examples are to create the perfect structure and bite of meat substitutes, amino acid composition, food safety, allergenicity, availability and nutritional value.

Download Protein Selection Chart

Curious about the Protein Selection Chart? You can download the map here.
The map of opportunities is a document 'in progress'. This means that you are very welcome to think along and give your ideas and suggestions on how to the develop the map further. Please contact us for more information. We are happy to receive your feedback!

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