Our vision is to maximise the food potential of UK pasture by using targeted chemical processing and novel biotechnology to convert grass into nutritious edible fractions for healthier and more affordable alternative foods, making UK agriculture more resilient and sustainable. Our proposal aims to use novel chemical processing methods to extract the central edible fractions from grass (protein, digestible carbohydrates, vitamins, lipids, fibre) before culturing the yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima on the cellulosic fraction to produce mycoprotein and a lipid suitable as a palm oil substitute. These ingredients will then be combined in a range of alternative meat and dairy products, displacing environmentally damaging imported ingredients currently used. Further processing of the waste products from the process will produce nutrient rich fertilizers and help create a model for future circular farming economies. When optimised this process would only need 10 to 15kg of fresh grass (20% dry matter content) to produce 1kg of edible food ingredients, of which approximately 25% would be lipid and 35% protein. Whilst not entirely comparable on a nutritional basis this represents a ten-fold increase in productivity compared to cattle raised for meat, or twice the productivity of dairy cows.
The Pasture to Plate project led by Harper Adams University (HAU) and University of Bath has received £2m funding from UKRI/BBSRC. Over 3 years the project will investigate technology which produces food products from grass. Grassland makes up over 70% of all UK agricultural land, with substantial quantities of grass never used. At present, the only way of producing food from grass is to convert it into meat and milk by feeding it to animals. This is a very inefficient process as animals typically convert only 5% of the grass food fractions into meat and 10% into milk (total system efficiency). The overall aim of this project is to develop a chemical and biotechnological process for converting grass into a range of novel food ingredients that will replace environmentally damaging imports. As this process is ten times more efficient than producing meat, it could massively increase UK food output and has the potential to create a new multi-billion-pound UK food industry.
Harper Adams University / University of Bath