The VALPRO Path project is a Horizon Europe Innovation Action, being co-ordinated by Dr. Ewen Mullins at Teagasc, which 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 across 10 European countries.
Speaking at the commencement of VALPRO Path participants in Moorepark, 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.”
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.”