Plant-Based Protein is the Future of Food

Adopting a “glass half-full” mentality to change the way the world produces and consumes food is the key to a bright and sustainable future for the global food industry, according to a leading international food scientist speaking at the Gulfood Innovation Summit.

Dr Bernhard van Lengerich address the Gulfood Innovation Summit on the challenges facing the food industry

Dr Bernhard van Lengerich address the Gulfood Innovation Summit on the challenges facing the food industry

As the global food industry faces up to rising populations, supply concerns and food security challenges, the Summit – a new knowledge platform at this week’s Gulfood, the world’s leading food and beverage trade show – has attracted an illustrious list of industry thought-leaders and industry disruptors to dissect and debate worldwide industry challenges over three days at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

Dr. Bernhard van Lengerich, CEO of Food System Strategies and Board Member of beyond Meat, used his keynote address – The Future of Food: Challenges and Opportunities – to stress the future of food is not about reacting to “what happens to us, it is about what we can do”.

Planting the seed for a brighter food future

The pioneering food scientist highlighted that as global population figures worldwide soar towards 8.5 billion by 2030, agricultural efficiency is plateauing at one per cent growth – a fact van Lengerich partially attributed to 50 per cent of the planet’s arable land being used for industry rather than food production.

“We must waste less, we must change our diets,” he told Summit delegates. “It takes a lot of energy for a big animal to produce 1kg of meat, protein,” he added, stressing that the same amount of protein can be grown from plant-based and alternative sources with much less energy, and land.

It’s time for alternatives

Van Lenegrich cited the example of the Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, a 100 per cent plant-based burger, made from pea protein. The product uses 99 per cent less water and 93 per cent less land than a traditional beef burger, but has the same amount of protein, taste and texture of the animal-protein patty.

“The most effective solution for the future of food is to pursue alternative, plant-based proteins,” said van Lengerich. “We must capitalise on the innovative minds of food scientists around the world, but also be aware that the Innovation model is changing. Instead of the mindset of ‘the lab is my world’, more people are thinking ‘the world is my lab’. There are 100,000 food scientists in the world, we have to use them.”

The food scientists closed his session by reiterating that the mindset of F&B investors is also changing with the evolution of ecosystem partnerships, whereby a small number of companies are developing innovations that are incorporated into big foods and reaching the market faster, a “win-win”, for the industry, consumers and the environment.


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