The challenge

Protein is fundamental to human health, but the way we currently produce and eat it is placing a heavy strain on land and sea resources. In the face of changing food consumption patterns, a rising global population and increasingly scarce resources, the situation can only worsen if we don’t take action now.

Following an extensive research phase, we have now designed a series of six exciting and high-impact pilot projects to drive a fundamental shift of the protein system. Three of these projects are being taken forward for immediate action.

Our latest report Shaping the Future of Protein sets out these projects in detail:

  • Chef’s Challenge: we’re enlisting some of the world’s leading chefs to collaborate in creating and placing more tasty plant-based options on restaurant menus, encouraging us all to eat more plants.
  • Plant Protein Stamp: in the US, we are developing an on-pack protein label for consumer products.
  • Feed Compass: to tackle issues of sustainability in animal production, we are developing an animal feed sustainability assessment tool.


Download the Shaping the Future of Protein report


We are actively looking for more partners from across the protein system to bring their resources and expertise to take action together, by driving forward our pilot projects. To get involved in our innovative pilot projects or for more information, contact Simon Billing.

Explore our innovation areas below:


What we did

In 2014, Forum for the Future worked with Volac, a dairy company, to test the appetite for a collaborative project aiming to transform the protein system to one that would be sustainable by 2040. Our interviews showed us a real appetite to work on these issues together with a number of exciting partners from across the entire protein system.

These partners became a global coalition which explored how to balance supply and demand of protein for a growing population in a way which would be affordable, healthy and good for the environment. Through in-depth research and work with food, nutrition, health and technology experts across the world, the group mapped the interrelationships within the entire protein system for the first time, in order to develop a common understanding of the industry.

Download The Protein Challenge 2040 summary report


The group developed challenging yet plausible future scenarios that allowed them to test different possible solutions. Then, they identified areas of highest potential for change, if collective action is taken together to innovate in those areas.

The three innovation areas for immediate action are:

  1. Increasing the proportion of plant-based protein consumption with consumers
  2. Scaling up a sustainable feed innovation to meet the demand for animal protein
  3. Closing the protein nutrient loop (for example, reducing waste rich in protein by finding new ways to feed it back into the production cycle)

The three innovation areas for future action are:

  1. Developing indigenous plants as protein sources for local communities
  2. Scaling up sustainable aquaculture for food and animal feed
  3. Restoring soil health

Behind The Protein Challenge 2040 are many leading organisations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Firmenich, The Hershey Company, Quorn, Target, Volac, Evonik, Ahold Delhaize, Seeding the Future and Waitrose. Forum for the Future is the independent convenor, bringing over 20 years of expertise in running multi-stakeholder collaborations and futures techniques.

Next steps

We are actively looking for more partners from across the protein system to bring their resources and expertise to take action together, by driving forward our pilot projects on the first three innovation areas: increasing plant-based protein consumption, developing sustainable animal feed and closing the protein nutrient loop.

We want to raise the profile of protein as an integral part of a sustainable food system by 2020. We want to change the conversation around protein, from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sources towards a better balance of sustainable protein. We also aim to catalyse action and investment in sustainable solutions, and work with stakeholders, business and government to tackle key hotspots across the system.

Get involved

  • If you would like to be involved in our innovative pilot projects, or for further information, please contact Simon Billing.
  • Visit the Protein Topic Hub in our Futures Centre to learn more about what is happening in the world of protein today and get actively involved in spotting signals of change, tracking trends and sharing resources.

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