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System analysis of the value chain for sustainable protein

Is food production based on sustainable proteins necessarily better for the climate? Are they always nutritionally healthier? Are new business models needed to achieve profitability in products based on cheap side streams? RISE expertise in systems analysis can be decisive for whether your company should go from idea to product development.

Sustainable for the climate – from a system perspective

We need to greatly accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gases to avoid serious impacts on ecosystems, human security, food production and water supply. Food accounts for about a quarter of all our consumption-driven greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is important to ensure that new proteins are developed into climate-smart products, by developing ingredient choices, raw material exchanges, energy consumption, transport and packaging materials, with the aim of minimizing climate impact.

RISE works with environmental impact assessment from a system perspective, that is, we analyze every part of a chain that is needed to deliver a product or service, and how it can be improved. Climate impact is an environmental impact that is evaluated, but also others such as water consumption, consumption of resources and contributions to eutrophication.

RISE participates in several projects in the area and RISE Climate Database is, for example, a tool used by municipalities, county councils and organizations that want to see the climate impact for different foods and climate-calculated recipes. The climate database can also be used as a strategic tool for monitoring the climate footprint from purchased foods and for setting climate targets that can then be continuously monitored. The tool makes it possible to follow if a shift towards sustainable proteins produces an effect over time.

Technically economically sustainable – will it be profitable?

It doesn't matter that the demand for the product exists and the raw material is cheap if expensive manufacturing costs and large investments in production equipment are required. Then the price of the product to the consumer becomes too high. RISE's expertise in techno-economic analysis, new business models, knowledge of the entire value chain for sustainable protein and knowledge of what the market is prepared to pay means that we can calculate what is needed for your product to be profitable, already at an early stage.

Sustainable nutrition – for health and the environment

The new foods produced based on sustainable protein sources differ both in terms of raw materials and process technology from many traditional protein sources, which have an impact on the nutritional content of individual products and diets as well as on health. Just as with other foods, it is important to ensure that the development of new alternative protein sources contributes to a healthy diet.

The nutritional content of the products needs to be evaluated to optimize the content of healthy nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) and to limit the content of nutrients that we eat from a health perspective (such as saturated fat and salt). When replacing animal protein in the diet with more environmentally sustainable protein sources, it is important that the new products maintain adequate nutrient density.

RISE works in several projects with the combined effects of food on the environment, nutrition and health. For example, we are working on developing a tool to analyze the nutrient density of diets and foods. This, in combination with the RISE Climate database, can provide better guidance on which foods and diets are more and less sustainable from a health and environmental perspective.

RISE has expertise in the analysis of the environmental impact of food production and consumption. In combination with the expertise in nutrition, we can develop interdisciplinary knowledge and methods that can help the consumer towards more sustainable and healthy food choices.

Contact us for more information on how RISE can help your organization.