Analysis overview

By upcycling agricultural and food processing residues as valuable inputs, alternative protein production can be embedded into circular bioeconomies that produce food more efficiently, affordably, and sustainably. However, without strong supply chains and marketplaces, it is difficult to identify which sidestreams are most promising.

This report identifies high-volume crop sidestreams produced in North America that are well-positioned to become inputs for alternative protein production. Inputs evaluated in this analysis are: 

  • Protein concentrates for plant-based food 
  • Protein hydrolysates for fermentation and cultivated meat media
  • Lignocellulosic-derived sugars for fermentation feedstock

Sidestream ranking & results

Sidestreams were ranked by their forecasted sidestream volume in 2030 and modeled production unit cost to create an economic ranking. Sidestreams were also ranked using the economic criteria plus their environmental impact and specific functional attributes to create an integrated ranking. 

Crop sidestreams that ranked high for novel application in alternative protein production were: 

  • Protein concentrates: soy meal, canola meal, wheat bran, wheat gluten, tomato pomace, corn distillers dried grain with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten meal, and brewer’s spent grain
  • Protein hydrolysate: soy meal, corn DDGS, canola meal, brewer’s spent grain, and corn gluten meal
  • Lignocellulosic sugars: corn stover, soy straw, sugarcane trash/bagasse, and barley straw/husks

Create custom sidestream rankings

Using the dashboards below, create custom crop sidestream rankings for each input category: protein concentrates for plant-based food, protein hydrolysates for fermentation and cultivated meat media, and lignocellulosic-derived sugars for fermentation feedstock. Adjust the importance of different criteria, giving greater or lesser weight to economic, environmental, or functional attributes in determining the overall ranking.

Related resources

Combine harvester at work in a field of wheat

Deep dive: Plant-based meat crop development

This explainer dives into the composition and properties of plant proteins, desirable ingredients for plant-based meat, and crop sources for these ingredients. Learn how advances in crop genetics benefit plant-based…

An assortment of beans in bowls on a white table, representing ingredients for plant-based meat

Plant Protein Primer

Find information on nutrition, functionality, price, sourcing, and consumer perceptions of plant protein sources for plant-based meat.

Mung beans feature

The Untapped Potential of Mung Beans for Alternative Proteins

A comprehensive exploration of the enormous opportunities and solvable challenges in utilising mung beans for alternative proteins.

Clean meat production cover art

Analyzing cell culture medium costs

This white paper explains different routes to lowering the cost of cell culture medium and making cultivated meat economically viable.

An illustration of scientific icons

Cultivated meat growth factor volume and cost analysis

GFI and collaborators model the quantities and cost profiles of growth factors and recombinant proteins needed for a mature cultivated meat industry.

Jackfruit farmer throwing jackfruits into the back of a truck.  credit: karana

Novel ingredients: the expanding toolkit of crops shaping the future of food

Developing new supply chains and processing innovations for underutilized crops like jackfruit can support farmer livelihoods while building the next generation of alt protein products.