June 24, 2020, by Lexi Earl
The Future Proteins Platform
Protein is an essential part of the human diet, providing an important building block for the body, as well as being used to build and repair tissue. As populations become increasingly wealthy, and urbanised, so the way they consume protein changes. Increased demand for meat, fish and dairy products is seen throughout the world as people move to cities and have more disposable income. Coupled with this is the growing global population which will inevitably require the production of more food, including more protein, and the effects we see of climate change which are altering how we are able to produce food.
Animal products, including meat, milk, eggs and fish are regarded as excellent sources of high quality protein. However, at present, farmed animals are fed high quality proteins, including soya and cereals, that could be fed directly to humans. Aquaculture remains heavily dependent on the unsustainable use of protein-rich fishmeal derived from wild-caught fish. Finding new plant and non-plant protein-rich alternatives to fishmeal, soya and cereals is therefore critical for the future long-term sustainability of both animal feed and healthy food.
The Future Food Beacon is therefore very excited to be supporting the Future Proteins Platform, a new, £1million project lead by Prof Andy Salter. The overall aim of this project is to evaluate novel plant and non-plant protein sources and to develop the most suitable ones for animal feed and/or human consumption.
To do this, the project team are:
- Investigating alternative means for generating protein, and whether these can be manipulated to improve quality or efficiency by which protein is produced
- Determining interventions which potentially utilise alternative, low-value feed sources to facilitate the sustainable production of such proteins
- Developing protein sources for us in aquaculture, farm animal production, or as human food ingredients.
The Future Proteins project draws on expertise across the University of Nottingham, including from Biosciences, Nutrition, Engineering, and Food Science. Six new PhDs have been recruited to UoN, both to the Nottingham UK campus and the Malaysia campus, as well as two postdoctoral researchers.
This week and next, we are featuring the team of Future Proteins here on the blog. Keep an eye out for interviews with Prof Andy Salter, Drs Carlos Lopez Viso and Molly Muleya, and the PhD candidates.