UK Government backs alternative proteins and pledges to create 'regulatory sandboxes'

In the paper, the government outlined its commitment to invest £2bn (€2.3bn) into engineering biology, a category that includes alternative proteins. The government also aims to create ‘regulatory sandboxes’ (tools to allow companies to test new ideas under supervision from a regulator) to accelerate development.

This follows on from other recent commitments, such as the government’s existing plans to invest £15m into an alternative protein research hub​.

Infrastructure shortages

One of the key barriers to the development of alternative proteins in the UK is infrastructure shortages. In its policy paper, the government pledged to focus on infrastructure as one of its six main priorities.

Costly infrastructure is an issue built into how some alternative proteins, such as cultivated meat, are produced.

“The materials and equipment needed to make cultivated meat are currently too expensive to produce affordable products,” Linus Pardoe, UK Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe, told FoodNavigator.

“The National Vision for Engineering Biology . . . highlights that they are ‘overengineered,’ since infrastructure like large-scale cultivators are currently designed for use in the life sciences sector rather than for food production. It is simply unnecessary and unaffordable for individual start-ups to be investing in the kind of equipment and facilities that will help them scale up their processes.”

This is where state-level funding comes in. “That’s why the government’s new strategy recognises the need for more food-grade pilot facilities, which can support a range of alternative protein companies to unlock the potential of foods like cultivated meat.”