In her role at Teagasc, Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority, Maeve is currently researching opportunities for the food industry to respond to the growing global demand for protein by adding value to processing co-products and side-streams. She has a particular interest in the factors that influence consumer attitudes towards emerging protein sources and seeks to influence polity in relation to the sustainable production and consumption of food.
A growing global population is placing increasing pressure on global protein sources and the proliferation of animal protein production is widely believed to pose a threat to the environment. The search for alternative protein sources is firmly on. However, is it right to assume that our consumption of animal proteins will fall – or that it should? There is evidence that, though animal proteins may have environmental drawbacks, they also deliver positive social and economic impacts and have high consumer acceptance. Newer proteins meanwhile, require the development of new value chains, and issues relating to production costs, safety and scalability are by no means resolved. Maeve’s presentation calls for a balanced view of the future, in which old and new protein sources have equal value and exist in synergy rather than competition.