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‘VALPRO Path’ project to deliver opportunities for plant protein production

The VALPRO Path project, a Horizon Europe Innovation Action, co-ordinated by Dr. Ewen Mullins, Teagasc, has secured co-funding of €9.7 million. The ambitious objectives of this research project will be achieved over 4 years through the involvement of up to 25 leading academic and industry teams

Pictured above are the ‘VALPRO Path’ project participants at the commencement meeting which was held recently in the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork

 The ambitious objectives of this research project will be achieved over 4 years through the involvement of up to 25 leading academic and industry teams across 10 European countries.

Speaking at the commencement of VALPRO Path participants in Moorepark earlier this week, Dr. Ewen Mullins, Head of the Crop Science Department in Teagasc said; “I’m excited to be working with outstanding colleagues as part of a broad multi-disciplinary team. VALPRO Path will develop the profitability potential of plant protein systems in order to meet the sourcing needs of food processors, balanced against environmental and social responsibilities. This will be demonstrated by exploiting innovations across 5 ‘living lab’ production systems. These systems will utilise existing farm networks, producers and food processors to realise the potential of on-farm technology and processing, farm-to-shelf nutrient tracking and agronomic practises that mitigate yield loss thereby creating crop synergies that support new business models. By applying the multi-sector expertise available to VALPRO Path, we will bring research-led applications closer to market, addressing the primary challenge that currently exists: the lack of supply and added value in EU plant protein production systems”.

Pictured at the commencement meeting of the VALPRO Path project, a Horizon Europe Innovation Action, are Dr Fiona Thorne, Teagasc Agricultural Economics and Farm Survey Department; Dr Ewen Mullins, Teagasc Head of Crop Science Department and VALPRO Path Co-ordinator; Professor Pat Dillon, Teagasc Director of Research; Michael Hennessy, Teagasc Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer Department; Dr Maeve Henchion, Teagasc Head of Spatial Analysis, Food and Agri Innovation Department; Dr Sheila Alves, Teagasc Crop Science Department; and Dr Mark Fenelon, Teagasc Head of Food Programme.

Indeed the current European plant-protein landscape is flawed with production systems focussed heavily on the production of feedstock for direct transfer into animal sectors in an attempt to counter the EU’s over-dependency on imported feed. In essence, there is an absence of premium supply chains - farmers miss added-value opportunities that exist within the crops they already grow across Europe. In addition, there is a clear need to increase resilience in farming systems to mitigate against increasingly volatile climate patterns and to support farming systems to meet Farm-to-Fork strategic objectives.

Built on the principles of co-creation, innovation, demonstration and evaluation, VALPRO Path will design and deliver sustainable and competitive plant protein crop systems and value chains. Focussed on underpinning economic value for all actors in the supply chain, Dr. Mullins said; “VALPRO Path will deliver a stronger ecosystem for plant protein production across the community, supported with robust evidence of the social, economic, environmental and climate benefits.”

Professor Pat Dillon, Director of Research in Teagasc, who officially opened VALPRO Path said; “With strong industry involvement VALPRO Path will deliver new, sustainable business models, showing how focussed research can come into practice. Sustainable diversification of rotations with grain legumes will support the transition to more environmentally sustainable farming and VALPRO Path will show that by embracing opportunities presented through existing food science innovations, new market opportunities that exist for indigenous, fully traceable plant protein will be realised.”

VALPRO Path is an Innovation Action Co-funded by the European Union through the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101059824