As the demand for nutritious and sustainable food continues to rise, it seems that plant-based proteins have gained significant attention, as a way-to-go healthy and viable solution to meet the growing needs, for both food and feed. Unfortunately, Europe depends on plant protein imports and the urgency to create self-sustainable Europe demands versatile and innovative approaches towards that goal. One of them is certainly intersecting different plant protein crops that enhances food security.

There are many advantages of this practice and we have explored them all. Dive in!

Diversifying Nutritional Profiles

Each plant protein crop has its unique amino acid composition and nutritional content. By combining different crops, the overall protein mixture becomes richer in a broader spectrum of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. For example, legumes like peas, lentils, chickpeas, and faba beans are known for their high protein content and complementary amino acid profiles. By intersecting these crops, the resulting mixture can offer a more complete and balanced protein source compared to relying on a single crop.

Maximizing Land Utilization

Intersecting different plant protein crops enables farmers to optimize land utilization efficiently. As each crop has unique growth requirements, including nutrient needs and growth rates, intercropping allows for better resource utilization, making the most of available land and contributing to higher overall crop yields.

Enhancing Sustainability

Intersecting various plant protein crops encourages regenerative agricultural practices, such as nitrogen fixation and reduced chemical inputs. Legume-based crops, like peas and faba beans, naturally enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen, which reduces the reliance on synthetic fertilizers and supports eco-friendly farming.

Nurturing the planet

According to New Food magazine, protein diversification is a win for people and the planet too. Beyond personal health and nutritional step up, protein diversification is a crucial step towards achieving a net-zero future. Intersecting plant protein crops contributes to carbon sequestration and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. By adopting such practices, Europe can take significant steps towards mitigating the impact of climate change while promoting a sustainable food system.

Enhancing Food Security

By reducing the dependence on a single crop, Europe can mitigate the risks associated with crop failure, due to weather fluctuations or disease outbreaks. A robust plant protein ecosystem ensures a stable and consistent food supply for the continent.

 Supporting Local Economies

Encouraging the cultivation and processing of a diverse range of plant protein crops benefits local economies. Farmers gain access to new markets and crop options, leading to increased revenue streams. Additionally, this approach can stimulate investment and job creation within the plant protein value chain.

VALPRO Path aims to create a new value chain by intersecting different plant protein crops, specifically pea and faba bean.

This approach will stabilize yield loss potential and improve the functionality of the final mixed protein system through Innovation Production System 3. The project will identify suitable varieties and blends of pea and faba bean to support synchronous harvesting, thereby enhancing crop yield and functionality during food production. The focus will be on intercropping management and the development of milling flours to improve the texture and sensory profiles of bakery products.

Through IPS3, VALPRO Path will validate and demonstrate a new value chain based on pea production through intercropping. This approach will provide high-quality protein material with various applications, including flour for food products and residues for potential use as animal feed. By leveraging the benefits of intersecting these plant protein crops, the project aims to advance sustainable and diverse protein sources in the food and agriculture industries.