Fungi, Mushrooms & Mycelium

What’s the Role of Fungi Protein in the Future of Food?

On May 30th, Quorn Foods hosted its first-ever Mycoprotein Summit, an exclusive gathering of changemakers to explore the role of fungi protein in a healthier and more sustainable food future.

Held at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the inaugural Mycoprotein Summit shared research presentations and panel discussions from pioneering thinkers, leading academics, and industry experts, spotlighting fungi-based protein.

ProVeg International’s Content Writer and Creator Gemma Tadman was invited to attend the innovative summit. In ProVeg’s latest New Food Hub article, Gemma shares her experiences, key takeaways, and business recommendations.

Mycoprotein is a ‘high-quality’ protein

A stand-out learning comes from scientific research on Mycoprotein amino acid digestibility and muscle growth potential.

During a panel discussion at the Summit, lead speaker Dr Tim Finnigan, Visiting Professor at Northumbria University, talked to early career scientists about their research projects with mycoprotein. The majority of the studies were based on understanding Quorn’s effects on the body and ultimately, on health.

Mycoprotein summit
Image credit: Gemma Tadman, ProVeg International

The audience was presented with exciting findings from a recent study, which compared the effects of a healthy omnivorous diet containing ‘high-quality’ animal protein with a healthy plant-based diet based on Mycoprotein. The test subjects carried out a 10-week resistance training programme throughout.

Alistair Monteyne, a scientist working on the study, concluded that: “The results showed that Mycoprotein is a ‘high-quality’ protein source that can support muscle growth, in fact, it’s better – it stimulated better growth than the omnivorous protein-containing diet.”

Protein is a hot topic in the world of animal-free foods – ‘But where do you get your protein from?’ is a question that veggie, vegan, and flexitarian consumers alike will be familiar with.

But this preliminary research shows that Mycoprotein can hold its own compared to animal-based proteins. If repeated, it could go a long way in the future in nudging consumers towards more sustainable, animal-free proteins.

Quorn Fried Vegan Chicken Nuggets

Mycoprotein-high diets don’t lead to deficiencies

Monteyne wasn’t the only scientist to discover that Quorn is beneficial for health. Dr Finnigan also talked with Benjamin Wall, whose research on micronutrients uncovered that people on a Mycoprotein-high diet are not deficient in anything.

“During the diet study with high-intensity training,” Wall said, “micronutrient status was not affected. We found that a high-Mycoprotein diet during high-intensity training doesn’t lead to deficiencies in certain vitamins and nutrients.”

In response, Dr Finnigan asked, “Should we redefine the definition of protein quality?”

“We still need to look at how other nutrients interact with Mycoprotein,” replied Wall. “Defining protein quality with respect to muscle health… it’s too early to draw conclusions, but it looks like plant/fungi protein may be better than animal-based protein.”

Tempty Foods
© Marlow Ingredients/Tempty Foods

“Mycoprotein is the most studied vegan protein there is – it ticks all boxes of being a ‘high-quality’ protein source, so we can now use Mycoprotein as the new reference source; we know it works. We no longer need to use animal-based meat or milk protein as the pedestal.”

If studies like these can be repeated to find similar results, then it bodes well for the industry. Science-endorsed, health-boosting products will lead to more trusting, healthier consumers who are more likely to purchase plant-based.

Certainly, products containing fungi protein certainly look set to help lead the way in a more sustainable and healthier food future.

Read the full article to learn more about the event and uncover ProVeg’s recommendations. For more insights on alt-protein and to learn how to develop and market products, get in touch with [email protected].

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