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The Center of Excellence in Food, Tourism & Leisure (CoEFTL) has obtained a Horizon 2020 research grant from the EU, the first such grant awarded to The American College of Greece. Acting through the ACG Research Center (ACG-RC), the CoEFTL’s team: Dr. Athanasios Krystallis, Executive Director; Dr. Toula Perrea, Member; and Prof. Polymeros Chrysochou, Advisory Board Member, participated as part of the consortium “LIKE-A-PRO,” representing a partnership of 42 academic and industrial partners from the entire EU and beyond. This consortium submitted a €12 million project responding to the H2020 Call “HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-01—Fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems from primary production to consumption.” The EU evaluated LIKE-A-PRO positively, resulting in a €360,000 grant assigned to ACG-RC.
LIKE-A-PRO is the short name of the project entitled “From niche to mainstream – alternative proteins for everybody and everywhere,” a project dedicated to developing and exploiting alternative protein sources for human consumption. The interest of Europeans in alternative proteins is becoming clear. This trend provides the perfect ground for the dietary shift towards sustainable and healthy nutrition and food systems, in line with the ambitions of the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork strategy and EU’s climate goals. Yet this interest is not reflected in the European dietary patterns, as early adopters mainly consume alternative proteins, while the majority are less receptive towards alternatives or have limited possibilities to integrate them into their diets. This gap between interest and consumption is due to obstacles in the food environments such as product limited offering, suboptimal product taste, isolated product placement in shops or menus, etc. Without overcoming these obstacles, alternative proteins will remain a niche.
LIKE-A-PRO aims to mainstream alternative proteins, making them accessible, available, and acceptable to everybody (from children to the elderly and various vulnerable groups) and everywhere (across Europe, in urban, peri-urban and rural areas). To achieve this, key representatives along the entire alternative protein value chain (growers, producers, cooks, retailers, consumers, researchers) will work together in a trans-disciplinary consortium. Practical solutions will be co-designed with citizens to improve European food environments toward fostering alternative protein consumption. This social innovation will take place in 11 living labs (one of which will be ACG) and in 4 real-life food environments. For a diversified alternative protein offering, 16 new alternative protein products will be developed with 7 sustainable, healthy and novel sources. To secure result deployment, the project will actively involve middle food system actors (+35,000 companies) – via co-creation and capacity building. For maximum impact, innovative communication campaigns will be launched in 6 countries, reaching 8 million citizens in 4 years.
LIKE-A-PRO is expected to start in November 2023 and last 48 months until October 2027.