How do you feed 9 billion people with sustainable protein?

That’s the question students were asked when they signed up for the ReThink Protein Challenge at Wageningen University & Research.

Sustainable Food Plant Based Protein Burger Patties

As the world population grows and the effects of climate change reach a critical level, ensuring sustainable food production becomes one of the world’s highest priorities. The ReThink Protein Challenge, established by Wageningen University & Research, is motivating the next generation of food technologists to innovate and secure sustainable production for the future. The results so far have been inspiring!

The alternative-protein challenge

In the ReThink Protein Challenge, Wageningen University & Research asked students from all over the world to come up with a business idea or prototype that will help provide 9 billion people with protein in a way that is healthy, affordable and sustainable.

Student teams were matched with producers and suppliers of the plant-based protein industry to support and develop their plans. Sustainability is at the heart of Marel’s business, so the R&D team in Boxmeer, Netherlands, jumped at the opportunity to participate.

Plant-based solutions for the future

Stephan Bouwman, Marel R&D technologist, has been mentoring teams of students in the Netherlands since January this year. 

At Marel, we are in the business of transformation, innovation and inspiration. With this challenge, we aim to nurture talent and to build the solutions of tomorrow together.

Stephan Bouwman Mthumb

Stephan Bouwman
Marel R&D technologist

Bouwman coached the students, finding mutual inspiration and sharing knowledge about the plant-based protein industry. “Marel Prepared Foods has been focused on processing plant-based proteins for some time. We have a long history of transferring technologies from one protein to another, so we are thrilled to support this challenge and explore new and innovative ways to apply our knowledge,” he says.

Marel’s RevoPortioner forms plant-based protein into burger patties

Transforming alternative-protein processing

For months now, the teams participating in the ReThink Protein Challenge have been working hard on their concepts. On 3 June, Wim Hilbrands, project director at DSM and chair of the selection committee, announced the twelve finalists. He was quick to state how difficult it was to select the finalists, as there were so many inspiring proposals and ideas to choose from.

The finalists have just a few days left to fine-tune their concepts before the grand final on Friday 25 June. Meet the twelve remaining teams and read more about their ideas for producing sustainable, healthy and affordable protein here.


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