Report: Europe home to 47% of global fermentation capacity
A new report has shed light on Europe’s potential to become a world leader in producing sustainable food through fermentation – revealing that the continent is home to almost half of the global sector’s manufacturing capacity.
The report titled ‘Fermentation – A Global Climate Solution’ – released by the Good Food Institute (GFI) and Integration Consulting – maps the sector and provides businesses and governments with “crucial insights” into how to scale up production to reduce climate emissions and satisfy global demand for meat.
A study in multidisciplinary science journal Nature last year found that replacing 20% of the world’s beef with fermentation-made meat could halve global deforestation, and analysis of Quorn’s fermentation-made meat (made from mycoproteins) found a carbon footprint 70% lower than chicken.
Fermentation can also help reduce food waste by transforming agricultural surplus and byproducts into nutritious food, offering farmers a new source of revenue.
GFI’s report has found 89 companies worldwide currently provide around 16 million litres of capacity to produce this food – and 47% of this exists in Europe, followed by the US at 34%.
The report warns that increase in consumer demand will stretch this capacity and that there is a mismatch of current manufacturing capacity in terms of scale, location and technical capabilities, compared to the local needs of the players in the industry.
The report also finds a lack of technical capabilities and production capacity is preventing start-ups from scaling and says more help is needed to enable early-stage producers to overcome the early period between initial venture capital investment and the transition towards commercialisation.
It urges governments to fund research and development and infrastructure, helping to commercialise the production of these sustainable foods to meet their climate goals.
The report also advises businesses to invest in more fermentation capacity and adds that developing existing industrial sites and equipment can reduce upfront costs by as much as 70% and cut lead times as short as six months. Breweries are highlighted as one of the most suitable options, as the sustainable protein fermentation industry uses fermenters, filtration systems and other equipment like those used to brew beer.
Carlotte Lucas, senior corporate engagement manager at GFI, said: “European companies have been pioneers in developing innovative fermentation-made products that can feed our growing population, and this report demonstrates how government and industry investment can unleash that potential”.
She continued: “Fermentation can deliver the meat people want sustainably, while giving farmers the potential to create new revenue streams and freeing up space for nature. As severe heatwaves and droughts put increasing pressure on yields from conventional agriculture, industry leaders, scientists and policymakers must work together to scale up this sector as quickly as possible.”