Smart Protein

The Smart Protein project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme under grant agreement number 862957

Delphy is part of a groundbreaking new EU project which will develop new alternative proteins. A range of highly innovative new-protein foods made from plants, fungi, byproducts, and residues from pasta, bread, and beer production – ingredients that are not currently widely used in food production will soon emerge from Smart Protein, a new Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission. A primary aim of the project is to help build a future-proof protein supply by creating sustainable and nutritious alternative proteins. This is in direct response to some of the most urgent challenges faced by the planet, including climate change and global food security. It is expected that the first wave of products – including plant-based meats, fish, seafood, cheese, infant formula, and other dairy products, as well as baked goods – will go to market in or around 2025.

Smart Protein’s approach and strategy are unique in that the key focus is on byproducts and residues, ingredients that are usually used for animal feed. Microbial biomass proteins will be created from edible fungi by up-cycling side streams from pasta (pasta residues), bread (bread crusts), and beer (spent yeast and malting rootlets). New products will also be developed from plants, including fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa – with a focus on improving their structure, taste, and flavour. Investigations into cost-effective protein extraction, protein chemistry, polymeric structure, physicochemical behaviour, and protein-protein interaction will be carried out in order to maximise the functionality of these proteins and customise their usage in food and drinks.

To find out more about the project, visit the website:

The official pressrelease can be read here

The pictures are taken
2021: June
2020: May 28, June 12, July 3  2020, August 10 2020, September 1 2020. They are shown in order of eldest to most new picture of Lentils, Quinoa and Fava beans.

Update 2021: The variety trials of protein crops will be repeated in 2021, some varieties will drop out, some new varieties will be added.  Follow the cultivation in 2021 also via @smartprotein.

update June 2021: At the end of April, the new crops of protein-rich crops such as flava beans, chickpeas, lentils and quinoa were sown at Lelystad. After a visit to the trial field in early June, we know that the flave beans grow well. The quinoa is (still) irregular. A new crop are the chickpeas, which we have treated with rhizobia bacteria to improve nitrogen fixation (and uptake). The black powder is the Rhizobia inoculum.


November 2020 update: The cultivation in 2020 showed that the late and irregularly maturing breeding lines of Quinoa gave significantly higher yields (2100 kg/ha) than the existing early maturing varieties (1500 kg/ha). This may be a result of more seed shedding in the early maturing varieties because weather conditions prevented timely harvesting. 2100 kg/ha is in itself a pretty good yield level.
For the lentils, the plants did not mature while the small pods did. In combination with the heavy rainfall, this led to very poor yields for 2 of the 3 varieties. In addition, the low crop was difficult to harvest.
Without chemical crop protection, the Fava beans were severely affected by disease as rust. The yield of the 2 best varieties was 1800 kg/ha

The crops were harvested around 1 September. Previously, 1 m2 has already been harvested from a number of fields to determine the total biomass. Ultimately, the lentils were manually harvested as whole plants. The lentils are now drying and will soon be put through the threshing machine. The harvest of the quinoa and fava beans was certainly not disappointing, given the wet conditions. Apparently there were already yield differences between the varieties. In general, the yield of the quinoa appears to be comparable in quantity to the fava beans. With the fava beans, it can be seen that the yield of the variety with the large beans is low due to the low plant density / small plants. Now this yield must also be dried and cleaned first.

The photos of 10 August clearly show that the lentils are ripening. The crop slowly dies. With the quinoa there are large differences between varieties, including in terms of disease susceptibility. The fava beans have unfortunately all become very sick due to rust and therefore die faster.
The photos of July 3 show a strong growth of the crop.
Project managerHarm Brinks (projectleader NL)
ClientEuropean Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme
DurationJanuary 2020 - December 2023
Related teamsTeam Projects and Innovations
Team Research Arable Farming