Lupin, a small protein bomb
Our food system is responsible for about 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland. Meat production is the main contributor. Many studies recommend the adoption of a mainly plant-based diet in order to reduce food-related emissions.
In that context, many industrial alternatives to meat have recently been launched: +20% of annual sales on average since 2016. Among the available options, soy remains the key ingredient in the composition of products. Despite the increase in demand, the production of plant proteins has not developed much in Switzerland. Thus, soy is still mainly imported from Europe and America.
We are Coralie and Ludivine, epicurean food scientists interested in the future of our alimentation. With Lupi’Food, we set ourselves a challenge: develop a local protein value chain to offer healthy, tasty and sustainable vegetarian options based on Swiss lupin. Local production of plant proteins could limit transport-related emissions but also environmental impacts in the main soy-producing countries, such as deforestation.
What is lupin? We know Arsène, but the plant, maybe not? Lupin is a pulse crop, well known in southern Europe. It is a popular snack usually preserved in brine or prickled. Besides being pretty, lupins are ideal for growing in Switzerland. It has a beneficial effect on soil, which means that less fertiliser is needed. Finally, lupin seeds are, along with soya, among the richest pulses in protein (35-40%), exceeding beef (20-25%). A real gem!
A local, healthy, sustainable and diverse food
With Lupi’Food, we are working on two axes:
Promoting and building a lupin value chain in Switzerland. Since the late 1990s, lupins have been forgotten due to a fungal disease. New varieties have been developed and are very promising. Pulses are very intersting crops and stand for the «architects of soil health». Lupins host special soil bacteria enabling the biological fixation of nitrogen, a natural process that would cost the use of chemical fertilisers. Our mission? Contribute to food sovereignty, reduce imports and diversify local and sustainable crops. To do this, we are seeking to develop a network and collaborations with Swiss farmers interested in growing this pulse.
Enhancing the value of lupins in the production of a local, healthy and tasty tofu and other lupin-based products Firstly, our objective is to offer more diversity in the plant-based proteins’ sources. Thus, we propose a simple vegetarian option, low processed, whose ingredients are local and natural. The product will be manufactured in Lausanne region by our small hands. Without additives, we have chosen to add a fermentation step in the process in order to develop unique flavors and improve the digestibility of nutrients. In a second phase, we will extend the range of swiss lupin-based products. We have a few recipes in mind (cookies, cereal bars rich in proteins) but you can obviously participate in the development and suggest some more ideas ;)
This is what we need backing for
So far, we have tested a few tofu recipes in the kitchen using Swiss lupin and found two partners in Vaud and Fribourg to start crop trials in March this year.
We need your help to support further lupin crop trials in Switzerland and also to optimise the tofu recipe for a desired launch time in autumn 2022:
With 18’000CHF, we will consolidate and secure the on-going lupin crop trials. In parallel, we will work on the optimisation and finalisation of the recipe in a lab.
With 30’000CHF, we will be able to extend the crop trials with other farmers in 2023, get prepared for the launch and develop specific packaging for sales in retail.
With 50’000CHF, we will be able to secure the production in a specialised lab, buy some equipment for the fermentation step and start the development of a range of lupin-based products (e.g. biscuits, protein bars..). Finally, the balance will allow Lupi’Food to shift from an association to a company in order to better support the launch of our products.