ProFuture is a European-funded Horizon 2020 research project aiming to scale up microalgae production and prepare the market uptake of microalgae proteins as ingredients for innovative and sustainable food and feed products.
The project will last for 4 years (2019-2023) and it is coordinated by the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Spain.
With global population expected to grow fast, the world is searching for alternative proteins that can meet upcoming demands for food and protein in a sustainable way.
Microalgae have been pointed as one of the most promising candidates to face this challenge, due to the high potential of their nutritional value and environmental footprint.
However, for the microalgae value chain to become more sustainable and competitive, innovative technology and cost-effective production processes must be put in place. That is the core mission of the ProFuture project.
To create cost-effective and environmentally responsible microalgae production technologies capable of providing sustainable and nutritious protein-rich foods and feeds.
— Optimised workflows will be tested to produce viable single-cell proteins and protein isolates from microalgae as a part of a cascading biorefinery process. The resulting products will be characterized for their nutritional, safety, techno-functional and organoleptic properties as well as for their economic viability and sustainability.
— ProFuture will develop and establish innovative technologies that depend on less freshwater, chemical nutrients and energy to grow and harvest microalgae.
— The project will explore two fresh-water microalgae species (Lemon/lightly Chlorella vulgaris & Arthrospira platensis a.k.a. Spirulina) and two marine species (Tetraselmis chui & Nannochloropsis oceanica).
— Specific Life Cycle Cost Analysis will be used to improve the ecological performance and resilience of microalgae biomass production. Results will be implemented in two microalgae farms in Portugal and Spain.
— Consumer studies will identify key determinants of consumer’s acceptance and preferences towards novel food products made from microalgae proteins. Communication and clean labelling approaches will be tested under real conditions.
— Microalgae protein ingredients will be used to create six types of protein-rich food products (bread, pasta, soups, sport drinks, meat alternatives and vegetable creams) and three types of protein-rich feed products (for farmed animals, aquaculture and pets).
— Lab-level studies will identify new ways to improve the appearance, texture, aroma and flavour of food and feed products made from microalgae protein-rich ingredients.
— Production will be tested at pilot plant level in collaboration with small to medium enterprises. Industrial-scale production will be led by nine large food and feed companies from seven European countries.
— Market analysis, business models, market entry strategies and exploitation plans will be tailored for each industrial partner to enhance its performance and to support market uptake of the innovative products.
— A strategy will be set in place to ensure a broad communication and dissemination of the project concept and key results. Different materials will be produced to educate citizens on the potential of micro-algae in the food system.
ProFuture brings together 31 European partners in a unique collaboration between researchers, small and medium enterprises, large companies and associations with expertise in the fields of:
Food and feed development
Life Cycle Analysis
Ingredient production and characterization
Regulatory issue management