Is the Protein Trend Still Gaining Traction?
General Mills is catching some flak from vocal critics over the newest iteration of its cornerstone Cheerios breakfast cereal brand. That new iteration is Cheerios Protein – produced with flavors like Oats and Honey and Cinnamon Almond, but fortified with soy protein and lentils to boost its protein factor. Lentils in breakfast cereal is definitely quirky, but is it really something to be that skeptical about?
Hardly. With Cheerios Protein, General Mills is just getting involved in one of the year’s hottest food production trends – alternative forms of protein.
In the run up to 2014, analysts predicted that consumers would be feeling burnt out on traditional protein sources like bacon and steak, and would be looking for protein alternatives like fish and plant-based sources to meet their needs. In response, the industry has been rushing in with products meant to meet those anticipated desires with products like high protein drinkable yogurt.
That early rush has paid off – true to those predictions, consumer interest has blossomed in lockstep with production. “Consumers want more protein in their diets,” Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst and author of Eating Patterns in America, told Food Navigator in March. “While our interest in protein is growing, we’re looking for alternatives to meat.”
By now, halfway through the year, consumer interest in protein fortification is unshakable – which means that even products like Cheerios that are not usually known for their protein content (as opposed to already protein rich products like yogurt) are trying to get in on the action. Why not? As reports point out, breakfast cereal sales growth has leveled off compared to products like yogurt that are still having their heyday. If cereal brands can utilize the power of protein to regain some of that breakfast market share, they would be remiss not to at least try. General Mills for one is making no bones about its goal to pique consumer curiosity with this new offering:
“We focus on providing products that we know that consumers want,” Mike Siemienas, a General Mills spokesperson, told The Huffington Post by phone. “Obviously protein products have become very important to consumers.”
In short, the lentils may take getting used to, but one can’t blame General Mills for taking the risk of a strange ingredient for the potential payoff from giving consumers more of the protein they want.
Better Origin’s AI insect farm is a solution to food waste
With 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted annually, a solution has come to market that recycles food waste back into feed, using insects.
Better Origin, a UK agritech business based in Cambridge, has developed a fully automated insect farm powered by AI, to naturally feed chickens. The company is reducing dependency on imported feed and helping food producers achieve net-zero.
With the global population expected to surpass nine billion by 2050, food production will need to increase by 70% to meet this demand. Sustainably produced animal-grade protein is a part of a long-term solution to increase food supply to humans.
Launched in 2015, Better Origin started with two Cambridge graduates’ love for nature and technology and a desire to ‘bring the food chain back to its origins’.
The Better Origin X1 product reduces the need for many resources
Better Origin wanted a solution to the broken food chain. By using both nature and AI, the company is addressing the global food security problem. Their solution to food waste increases food security and improves animal welfare and sustainability.
The product – the Better Origin X1 - uses insects to naturally convert food waste into animal feed. It reduces the need for many resources required to produce animal feed:
The X1 looks like a standard shipping container, but it's a fully autonomous, modular insect farm powered by AI. The feed created by this new technology is produced naturally, is cost-effective and promotes a more circular food system, providing greater resilience and flexibility in times of need.
The Better Origin X1 recycles local agricultural waste to produce natural insect protein. This reduces the farmers’ dependency on unsustainable feeds, such as soy. The bioconversion unit grows insect feed on the farmers’ behalf, overseeing the larvae’s feeding and growth. This solution tackles waste and improves productivity, yield, and animal welfare, all while delivering a 130% ROI.
Achieving net-zero with insect protein and AI innovation
Insects farms are already operating in four places around the UK, including independent free-range farms.
“Humans are terrible at dealing with waste, while nature does it perfectly”, said Fotis Fotiadis, CEO & Founder of Better Origin. “We can have insects all around the world, addressing food waste locally. They will improve the lives of animals and make the future of food more sustainable. Our technology is on the path to becoming the mark of best practice within the food industry. We are working with farmers, retailers, and food producers to roll out this solution, with the aim to help secure the future of food.”