The EU is set to invest €50m ($54.9m) next year to help precision fermentation start-ups scale-up the production of alternative proteins.

The investment will come through the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Work Programme 2024, under the EU’s Horizon Europe project.

It will aim to “improve the sustainability, efficiency and resilience of the European food supply chain through decoupling food production from the soil and minimising environmental impacts including water pollution”.

Precision fermentation uses micro-organisms such as yeast to produce alternative proteins without using animals.

The EIC said in a statement the work programme will open up “funding opportunities” worth more than €1.2bn.

Discussing precision fermentation options, the EIC stated it seeks to “support radical technological innovation with possible disruptive effects on existing markets to secure additional food sources, while preserving the environment and supporting biodiversity”.

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By GlobalData

It wrote: “Viable alternatives are critical to address challenges linked to climate change and the environment, including biodiversity loss and pollution.

“In doing so, this challenge will foster EU technological autonomy and leadership in delivering scalable food production processes that can generate benefits to consumers in Europe and beyond.

“Further, the development of novel foods and processes may also help provide consumers with healthier alternatives, thereby decreasing the incidence of food-related health conditions amongst the general population.”

Earlier this year, the Precision Fermentation Alliance was formed by nine businesses – including Perfect Day and Remilk – with the aim to “exponentially accelerate” the industry’s development.

Just Food’s analysis earlier this year revealed that while the technology has seemingly resolved the challenge of getting close to the stretch-and-melt characteristics lacking in cheese alternatives, reaching scale and price compatibility are the next frontiers.