Wageningen University & Research is delighted to announce our participation in a new Horizon Research and Innovation Action called GIANT LEAPS. This EU-funded project aims to accelerate the transition from animal-based to alternative dietary proteins.
This dietary shift is key to reducing the footprint of our food system in terms of environmental impacts and improving the health and well-being of people, animals, and the planet. The project will deliver strategic innovations, methodologies, and open-access datasets to speed up this dietary shift, in line with the Farm-to-Fork strategy and contributing to the European Green Deal target of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. The EU supports this project with €10.3 million in funding over 4 years, starting 1 September 2022. In total, GIANT LEAPS has a budget of €11.9 million. This project fits neatly with the WUR mission within the Proteins for Life program.
The GIANT LEAPS project will assess alternative protein sources, benchmark them against traditional animal proteins and define future diets optimised for environmental and health impact. The alternative protein sources that undergo research include plant-based proteins, microbe & fungal proteins, ocean-based proteins, insect-based proteins, cultured meat, and traditional proteins. The project will also address the challenges of using alternative protein sources for human food applications such as ingredients processing and food production; safety by design, including allergenicity; digestibility and health; and sustainability, biodiversity, and climate.
The innovations and improved methods combined with accessible and comprehensive information generated for a wide collection of alternative proteins will enable policymakers to prioritise changes in the food system towards the dietary shift based on the desired impact; value chain actors to make strategic scientific, business and investment choices; and the general public to make a more sustainable and healthy dietary choice.
The GIANT LEAPS consortium consists of 34 partners from across Europe, ranging from start-ups to universities and research institutes, to accommodate the project’s multidisciplinary nature and scope. In early September, project coordinator Dr Paul Vos from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research hosted the first project meeting in Wageningen, which allowed the consortium partners to meet each other and plan for the 4-year duration of the project. Researchers from five groups and institutes from Wageningen University & Research are involved in the project, including Dr Ine van der Fels-Klerx from Wageningen Food Safety Research, who leads the work package to define optimised future diets with alternative proteins.
By the end of this month, invited stakeholders will provide their input at the first GIANT LEAPS Stakeholder Board to ensure that the project delivers relevant insights and solutions. As the project progresses, GIANT LEAPS aims to attract more stakeholder groups representatives to provide their advice, including consumer associations, primary producers, the food industry, the retail/hospitality industry, public health authorities, risk assessors, and policymakers.