Smart Protein

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 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 Mai 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.

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 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.

November 2020 update: the protein content and quality of all crops will soon be determined.
Quinoa: The late and irregular ripening breeding lines gave a clearly higher yield (2100 kg/ha) than the existing early ripening varieties (1500 kg/ha). This may be due to more seed loss in the early maturing varieties because the weather conditions did not allow timely harvesting. 2100 kg/ha is in itself a fairly good yield level.

Lentils: the plants did not ripen while the small pods did. In combination with the heavy rainfall this led to a very poor yield in 2 of the 3 varieties. Moreover, the low crop was difficult to harvest.

Broad beans: without chemical crop protection, the broad beans were severely affected by chocolate stains and rust. The yield of the 2 best varieties was 1800 kg/ha.


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

Project managerHarm Brinks (projectleader NL)
ClientEuropean Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme
Durationjanuari 2020 - december 2023
Related teamsTeam Projects and Innovations
Team Research Arable Farming