To create added value for farmers and explore sustainable business opportunities related to on-farm processing, the VALPRO Path project led by Teagasc aims to turn food-chain actors towards sustainable plant protein production. The mission is to pioneer fresh possibilities, validating and showcasing ways to enhance plant protein production for food and feed in the EU. A core part of VALPRO Path are 5 Innovation Production Systems (IPSs) located across the EU, which as ‘living labs’ will generate novel production/processing systems that exploit the highest value potential from protein crops such as pea, lupin, chickpea, faba bean and lentils.

IPS1, under the leadership of the University of Turin, introduces a revolutionary concept by processing primary production directly at the farm level. This approach seeks to shorten the supply chains, bring added value closer to the farm, and set new standards for the industry. By processing plant-based raw materials locally or directly on the farm, IPS1 aims to empower farmers, promote circularity, and increase income.

The innovative model keeps the production and processing at the beginning of the value chain, but also focuses on creating and distributing innovative plant-based products by engaging with other value chain actors.

Recognizing the vast potential of plant protein in street food, IPS1 is actively forging connections with local SMEs for the distribution of creative veggie burgers. The exploration of chickpea and lentil flour’s potential in veggie burger development further underscores the project’s commitment to novel food solutions. Additionally, IPS1 will tackle on farm deshelling and processing of peanuts bringing added value to European peanuts through distribution as whole nuts packaging and peanut butter for resale or inclusion as a food ingredient.

“IPS1 has its focus set on exceptional crops and promising countries, including lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, lupins and faba beans. The journey began with a comprehensive characterization of farm-level products, with a dedicated effort to identify technologies that enhance the value of our raw materials. Our emphasis is on validating decentralised technology with endeavours such as protein dry separation, the utilisation of by-products or co-products, simple drying technologies, cold pressing, and extrusion technologies. We prioritise affordability and improved functionality of the ingredients, even exploring innovative logistic technologies to transport small volumes to other players in the value chain.”

Remigio Berruto, IPS 1 Leader, University of Turin

The IPS’s results will be shared among other IPSs to maximise the impact of these discoveries and ensure their reliability. IPS1 will also actively engage numerous stakeholders across different levels through its extensive network, facilitating ongoing testing and validation. The VALPRO Path project is co- funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme and all the information is available on project’s website, as well as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Youtube.

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