Quorn first asked us to collaborate back in 2011, when they were looking for ways to minimise their environmental impact. We began working together in what’s known as a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP), where one of our experts is based in an organisation and is set a problem to solve. KTP Associate Louise Needham worked with Dr Wayne Martindale, one of our food innovation specialists, to carry out a supply chain analysis to the latest standard BSI PAS 2050. By looking at raw material input, product output, energy, waste and water use, she was able to carry out product carbon footprinting, which identified key areas of greenhouse gas emissions and some of the steps that Quorn could take to address its environmental impact.
Our analysis and recommendations paid off and Quorn became the first meat-alternative brand – and one of the only food products in the world – to achieve Carbon Trust certification for their carbon footprint. And there was more good news: the approach to sustainability we co-created is now recognised as a best practice standard for the food industry, and saved Quorn an impressive £1m over a few years. Published figures reveal that the carbon footprint of UK retail Quorn mince and chicken-style pieces could be at least five times less than beef and one and a half times less than chicken equivalents.
Project findings have been published in an academic journal: The Life Cycle Analysis of Meat-Alternative Foods and presented at an international agri-food lifecycle conference. We’re delighted that the research we carried on has enabled Quorn to give industry credibility and expert rigour to their sustainability policy and practice. Louise Needham, our KTP associate, went on to work for Quorn Foods as sustainability manager following project completion.
Our successful collaboration has led to further partnership working and continued innovation. Quorn Foods provide one of the most efficient and sustainable ways of producing healthier protein with lower environmental impact. Quorn are now our significant industrial partner in a groundbreaking £1 million collaborative research and development project between India and the UK.
The consortium, led by an innovative rice mill designer Koolmill, is made up of thirteen industrial and academic partners in the UK and India. The group are engaged in research and development which aims to reduce waste in the rice milling process, as well as creating value out of the waste which is generated. It has the potential to create a new protein-rich food that’s convenient and affordable for consumers in India. Due to complete in 2021 we’re already looking forward the results with anticipation.
“Quorn’s partnership with Sheffield Hallam University has grown and deepened over the years and it’s thanks to our shared drive for innovation. We’ve worked together on a series of pioneering projects that have enabled us to improve our sustainability and profitability. Our collaboration directly led to Quorn being recognised as the first global meat-alternative brand to achieve third party certification of its carbon footprint figures. Having access to this calibre of food engineering expertise accelerates our research and development and opens up knowledge that can really transform our business.”
Tim Finnigan, Technical Director, Quorn