GERMANY, Hohenheim. University of Hohenheim presents new cooperation project at field day: Aim is to establish sustainable, regional value chains for hemp protein.
Hemp has a future: not only does it have enormous medicinal potential, it is also increasingly attracting the interest of scientists, companies and consumers as a basis for novel, ecologically and sustainably produced foods. Researchers at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart have now joined forces with the company Signature Products in Pforzheim to develop innovative processes, technologies and recipes for the production of protein-rich foods such as vegan cutlets, tofu, pasta, etc. from regionally grown hemp.
As part of the Bioeconomy Innovation and Investment Program for Rural Areas (BIPL BW), the Ministry for Rural Areas and Consumer Protection Baden-Württemberg (MLR) is funding the project with around € 1 mill. Of this amount, around € 365,000 are allocated to the University of Hohenheim, making it a research heavyweight there. The Tastino project was presented to invited guests at a field day at the University's Agricultural Sciences Experiment Station, Ihinger Hof Substation.
The growing world population, increasing urbanization and rising income levels are leading to increased demand for meat and animal foods worldwide. With far-reaching consequences for human health as well as the environment and nature.
Already today, more and more people are foregoing the consumption of animal protein for health, ecological as well as ethical reasons. Instead, they are increasingly turning to products made from vegetable protein. The market for these meat substitutes is still relatively small. But Florian Pichlmaier, Managing Director of Signature Products GmbH, sees it as growing very strongly: "Currently, Europe, the leader, has a 40% share of the total global market for meat substitutes, and experts estimate that it will reach about € 2.4 bn. in 2025."
So new plant-based protein sources are needed - and clever methods to tap them. Increasingly, the very versatile hemp plant is becoming the focus of interest. Its intoxicating effect is irrelevant: commercial or industrial hemp is practically free of the psychoactive substance THC.
In the project "SchniTzel, Hemp Tofu, PASTa & Co from the Real Lab Hemp - proteIN-based Food from regiOnal Hemp Cultivation" (Tastino), the scientists and the company Signature Products now want to develop hemp seeds as a new source of protein for human nutrition.
"The seeds have up to 25% protein, the composition of which is similar to that of egg white. It contains all the essential amino acids and thus has a high biological value," says Dr. Forough Khajehei, a member of the Cultivation Systems and Modeling group, describing the advantages of hemp protein. "It's also easily digestible and has a desirable chewy, meat-like texture that creates the sensation in the mouth of biting down on meat."
But not every variety of hemp is suitable for every product. In total, the scientists at the University of Hohenheim are currently testing around 20 varieties on the experimental plots at Ihinger Hof near Renningen.