The agreement was signed yesterday at SIAL in Paris by agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll and secretary of state for industry Christophe Sirugue, and will see the country develop solutions for “intelligent food” through a programme of strategic restructuring and investments in research and development (R&D) and innovation all with a focus on protein.
The Protein France industry consortium is made up of some of France’s biggest agro-food firms: oilseed and protein crop firm Avril group, grain co-operative Limagrain, ingredient supplier Roquette, sugar and sweetener manufacturer Tereos, Neovia, Terrena and development firm IAR.
Up to one billion euros will be invested in the plan over the next five years, including human, material and financial resources, said a statement issued by the government , with the projects receiving financial support from the country’s public investment bank (BPI) or the future investment programme (PIA).
There will also be a special focus on further exploring ‘proteins of the future’, such as microalgae and insects.
The agreement has a number of axes, including supporting industrial and agricultural research projects that focus on boosting the quality and diversity of functional proteins; lending regulatory support for the launch of new products and helping innovative start-ups.
It will complement the existing national Plant protein plan 2014-2020 which has been working to boost the cultivation of pulses over the past two years.
A spokesperson for Roquette told FoodNavigator: "We are at the starting point of this consortium, it is too early to define the time frame. This plan will be certainly a multi-years action plan with an expanded consortium. As a leader in plant-based proteins, Roquette is an important part of this consortium. The main targets are to support all the value chain’s players, and to shorten the time to market for plant-based proteins solutions."
The agreement was welcomed by ANIA, the association that represents the interests of the French food industry. Its president, Jean-Philippe Girard, said [translated from French]: “By leaning on our expertise and skills, this is about starting a unifying dynamic between different actors in order to support the growth of the French protein sector, giving it a sustainable competitive advantage and accompanying its innovations on the market and to consumers.”
According to ANIA, France needs to develop its added value potential for protein. The country produced 40 million tonnes of wheat last year, making it the fifth biggest wheat producer in the world and the second biggest exporter. But this includes over two million tonnes of protein that was exported that had not been processed to increase its value, the industry group said.
Last year the French government set itself the target of creating 1,500 jobs within ten years through the production of concentrated protein destined for human consumption, through the Nouvelle France Industrielle platform.
World demand for protein of both vegetable and animal origin is tipped to increase by 40% by 2030, or 7% per year, yet one billion people worldwide currently suffer from protein deficiency, according to figures from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).