Circular and inclusive utilization of alternative proteins: A European and Mediterranean perspective

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


  • Christos G. Athanassiou
  • Sergiy M. Smetana
  • Daniel Pleißner
  • Annalisa Tassoni
  • Laura Gasco
  • Francesco Gai
  • Avi Shpigelman
  • M. Bravo Cadena
  • M. Gastli
  • Luis E.C. Conceição
  • E. Gronich
  • S. Paolacci
  • V. Chalkidis
  • M. Kuthy
  • R. E. Stolzenberger
  • A. El Yaacoubi
  • Clara Mehlhose
  • Janos-Istvan Petrusán
  • Christos I. Rumbos

Current European, and particularly Mediterranean, agricultural production systems heavily depend on protein imports to cover the nutritional needs of farmed animals and fish. To increase their resilience, the EU is in search of efficient, sustainable, and locally produced alternative proteins. Insects and algae have recently gained much attention due to their ability to bioconvert agro-industrial side-streams into valuable resources. Legumes are known for their high protein content; however, certain species, such as lupins and fava beans, have been overlooked and underused as food and feed. Additionally, microbial fermentation can be used in parallel with insects, algae, and legumes, to efficiently transform them into food and feed. This contribution describes the challenges and chances associated with the utilization of these alternative protein sources for food and feed applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100892
JournalCurrent Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this paper has been provided by PRIMA, a program supported by the European Union, under grant agreement No 2231, project CIPROMED (PRIMA Call 2022 Section 1 Agri-food IA).

Funding Information:
There are numerous protein sources that have been so far evaluated; here, emphasis will be laid on three sources that have been prioritized by PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) through the funding of the CIPROMED (Circular and Inclusive utilisation of alternative PROteins in the MEDiterranean value chains; PRIMA Call 2022 Section 1) project: insects, algae and legumes. Among the three sources, insects and algae path the way to the utilization of nitrogenous compounds from agricultural production losses and to the coverage of future protein demand. Legumes, on the other hand, are known for nitrogen fixation and their high protein content, thus contributing first to the supply of proteins and second to reduced nitrogenous fertilizer use during cultivation. On the other hand, the efficient biorefinery processing of legume byproducts, residues, and wastes generated from agro-industrial and food processing and produced yearly in very large amounts may represent an interesting source of plant proteins contributing to satisfy the steadily increasing global protein demand [8].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Alternative proteins, Fermentation, Insects for food and feed, Legumes, Mediterranean basin, Microalgae
  • Biology