Project Details


Our vision is to maximise the food potential of UK pasture by using targeted chemical processing and novel biotechnology to convert grass into nutritious edible fractions for healthier and more affordable alternative foods, making UK agriculture more resilient and sustainable. Our proposal aims to use novel chemical processing methods to extract the central edible fractions from grass (protein, digestible carbohydrates, vitamins, lipids, fibre) before culturing the yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima on the cellulosic fraction to produce mycoprotein and a lipid suitable as a palm oil substitute. These ingredients will then be combined in a range of alternative meat and dairy products, displacing environmentally damaging imported ingredients currently used. Further processing of the waste products from the process will produce nutrient rich fertilizers and help create a model for future circular farming economies. When optimised this process would only need 10 to 15kg of fresh grass (20% dry matter content) to produce 1kg of edible food ingredients, of which approximately 25% would be lipid and 35% protein. Whilst not entirely comparable on a nutritional basis this represents a ten-fold increase in productivity compared to cattle raised for meat, or twice the productivity of dairy cows. By converting grass into edible food components, a number of advantages are realised including:

- UK produced substitutes for palm oil, soya protein, and other imported food ingredients. This has environmental benefits in the UK and abroad. It will provide UK produced healthy nutritional substitutes for ingredients grown on former rainforest sites, whilst significantly reducing food miles;
- Produce UK food substitutes for over two billion pounds worth of annual food imports, with the opportunity to export significant quantities of surplus produce;
- Improved UK resilience to climate change as grass is more resilient to flooding and other extreme weather conditions than most other crops;
- As the process is feedstock agnostic, it should work equally well with wildflower rich pasture grass. This potentially enables the reintroduction of grasslands with greater biodiversity without having an impact on the grasses usability, an environmentally beneficial by-product of the process;
- Providing a commercially viable non-livestock based market for forage production that would also allow arable land that is prone to flooding to profitably return to meadow grass production;
- The profitable inclusion of grass in arable rotations to help combat blackgrass and other pesticide resistant weeds;
- At present, in some areas it is uneconomic to build and maintain livestock fencing, resulting in grassland in these regions having little commercial agricultural value. These grasslands will now become commercially viable, and contribute to UK food production;
- Limited risk in scaling up as there is no need to invest in new farm machinery, existing forage equipment and storage facilities will suffice and the bio-processing technology is mature and already used for many other industrial applications;
- Opportunities for investment in a new UK food industry;
- With the production of more digestible fractions, this project would produce more sustainable, UK sourced, feed for monogastric livestock;
- Initial research suggests that sufficient unutilised grass is available for the P2P process, therefore, this system should have little or no impact on grass supplies for dairy and livestock farming.
Effective start/end date1/11/2231/10/25

Collaborative partners


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Agri-environmental science
  • Bioengineering
  • Food science and nutrition
  • Agricultural systems
  • Biochemical engineering
  • Food processing


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