Mycoprotein Summit 2023

Exploring The Role Of Fungi Protein For A Healthier And More Sustainable Food Future.

On Tuesday 30th May 2023, Quorn Foods and The Good Food Institute brought The Mycoprotein Summit to an audience of over 90 pioneering thinkers, leading academics and industry experts at Kew Gardens, London as well as an online audience.

This inaugural Mycoprotein Summit explored the role that mycoprotein can play in a healthier and more sustainable future. Here we share a short summary of the talks and discussions shared throughout the day for those who were not able to join us, and you can also read some of the news articles* covering the Summit. The recording of the day and short interviews with some of the speakers will be available soon.

Highlighted Learnings

Research suggests that mycoprotein:

  • Builds muscle as effectively as animal protein
  • May have the potential to reduce cholesterol levels
  • Promotes beneficial bacteria and microbial diversity
  • Lowers faecal genotoxicity

Opportunities for future research include understanding:

  • The benefits of mycoprotein’s unique food matrix structure
  • How mycoprotein-rich diets can help address the obesity crisis while driving improved metabolic health
  • How mycoprotein compares to other plant proteins in terms of health outcomes
  • Mycoprotein’s impact on gut health and beyond

Our calls to action to ensure mycoprotein reaches its full potential:

  1. Policy makers must acknowledge fungi protein as distinct and separate to plant protein
  2. Global inclusion of mycoprotein in food-based dietary guidelines
  3. Consumers and policy makers need to recognise mycoprotein as a healthy and sustainable processed food
  4. Consumers and policy makers need greater understanding of mycoprotein’s health benefits beyond protein

The day began with a session on Kew’s Science, mycology research and the application of fungi. Professor Alexandre Antonelli (Director of Science at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) introduced Kew’s Science Strategy, and Senior Research Leader Dr Ester Gaya offered an introduction to mycology, and why continued research and innovation are crucial to accelerating the discovery and development of fungi-based solutions that could future-proof life on earth.

This was followed up by a talk from Seren Kell (Senior Science and Technology Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe) who discussed the need for sustainable proteins to feed the world by 2050, and the role that different kinds of microbial fermentation (traditional, biomass-based - including Quorn’s mycoprotein - and precision) will play in this transition.

Latest Mycoprotein Nutrition Research Findings

Dr Tim Finnigan (Visiting Professor, Northumbria University) led a highly engaging five-part session which saw our Quorn funded early career researchers from a host of leading research institutes spotlight their studies relating to mycoprotein, demonstrating the myriad of findings and potential health benefits it delivers and its potential to help tackle some of the biggest health issues society currently faces.

Informing Nutrition Policy and Practice

Our Head of Nutrition at Quorn Foods, Dr Hannah Theobald, then chaired a panel discussing how the rich-evidence-base showing the health benefits of Quorn mycoprotein can be used to inform what changes are needed in the external environment for more consumers to adopt fungi proteins into their diet. The panel of experts comprised of Professor Benjamin Wall (University of Exeter), Dr Daniel Commane (Northumbria University) and Dr Fred Warren (Quadram Institute) who shared key research findings from their institutions and assessed the importance of these from a public health perspective.

In particular, this panel discussed the importance of integrating fungal protein sources into policy and dietary guidelines. To make fungal proteins such as mycoprotein more familiar to the average consumer progress needs to be made to incorporate alternatives to plant and animal proteins into public health dietary guidance globally.

Supporting Sustainable Diets

We also heard from an esteemed panel of leading food system experts in nutrition, consumption and sustainability – Dr Simon Steenson (Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation), Dr Joanna Trewern (Head of Consumption at WWF-UK) and Dr Vincent Walsh (Head of Farm Innovation at RegenFarmCo). Bibi Rogers (Net Positive Lead, Quorn Foods) opened the session by spotlighting Quorn’s approach to sustainability, highlighting the milestones achieved to date and discussing ongoing work to support the company’s mission to become net positive by 2030.

The panel then gave their attention to the role mycoprotein can play in sustainable diets and what needs to happen to enable it to realise its full potential. They also highlighted the importance of making food processes as sustainable as possible by thinking about the bigger picture, not just carbon, and making use of so called ‘waste’ in food manufacturing processes. The future of food needs innovative solutions that take into account the strain on the environment.

The day was wrapped up by Tim Ingmire (Chief Research and Development Officer at Quorn Foods) and Dr Chris Bryant (Head of Policy at the Alternative Proteins Association, and Director of Bryant Research) reflecting on the themes of the day and leaving us with a thought-provoking end to an inspiring day.

Food Navigator – Mycoprotein’s health potential
Food Navigator – Mycoprotein and fungal proteins – The sustainability potential
ProVeg – Mycoprotein Summit 2023: The role of fungi protein in the future of food

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