Research and innovation programme Horizon Europe has announced €25 million in funding for its sustainable protein research programme.

The Horizon Europe project – which will be in progress throughout 2023 and into 2024 – will feature three sub-projects, each using cell cultivation and fermentation technologies, and each addressing a different research topic.

The cultured meat and seafood project ‘calls for ideas focused on how to reduce the high costs of infrastructure and raw materials currently needed for cultivated meat, as well as how to scale up such production in a cost-effective way’. Horizon Europe says that compared with conventional meat, cultivated alternatives could ‘cut the climate impact of meat by up to 92%, while using up to 95% less land and 78% less water’; for this reason it will also examine ‘how to booster consumer acceptance’ of the technology required to create cultivated meat and seafood. €7 has been earmarked for this project.

A second project, for which €9 has been budgeted, centres around creating fermentation-based ingredients to improve the textures and flavours of plant-based meat, dairy and fish alternatives. It will pilot novel precision fermentation techniques and develop new biomass production methods.

The final project looks at the ‘impact of the development of novel foods based on alternative sources of proteins’. Horizon says this working stream ‘will call for ideas assessing the potential of foods including algae-based products and microbial proteins to address European Green Deal objectives, including environmental goals, compared to conventional meat and dairy, as well as their production cost and consumer acceptance’. €9 million has been allocated in funding.

The Good Food Institute Europe welcomes the news of funding, with Acacia Smith, its senior policy manager, commenting: “Europe is home to some of the world’s best scientists, and this funding will help spark real innovation in cultivated meat and fermentation, making sure these sustainable foods are delicious and accessible to nearly half a billion Europeans.

“It’s great to see the EU is investing in the continent’s incredible research expertise to accelerate Europe’s shift to a sustainable, secure and just food system and make sure farmers are part of this transition. We now need to see national governments following this example and investing in the research and infrastructure needed to advance these foods.”