Economically-Powered Protein Transition through Innovations in Chains (EPPIC)

The protein transition is essential for achieving nitrogen and climate goals and for stopping deforestation. Despite high ambitions for a protein transition in the Netherlands, realisation lags behind. Five major players (the Ministry of Agriculture, ZLTO, Wageningen University & Research, Larive International B.V. and Next Food Collective) developed a plan to put the protein transition into practice. In a way that benefits the economy, the environment and the farmer.

On behalf of the five initiators, the Ministry of Agriculture submitted an application to the Dutch National Growth Fund in February 2023. In the summer of 2023, they will announce whether or not the application has been honoured.

Urgency & opportunities

The shift from animal to plant-based proteins is not moving fast enough to meet the intended environmental goals in The Netherlands. There are many small, fragmented initiatives and growing local plant proteins is not yet profitable for most farmers. As such, the bulk of plant proteins, including soy, comes from abroad. Without interventions, the Netherlands will remain dependent on large-scale protein imports and that could put Dutch agriculture at a disadvantage.

Accelerating the protein transition is not only necessary, but it also offers plenty of opportunities. There is a shift in protein production and consumption: the demand for plant-based proteins (from Dutch and European soil) is rising. With its internationally recognised position in food innovations and a dynamic mix of companies in the agrifood sector, the Netherlands is well positioned to respond.


The aim of the EPPIC masterplan is to put the protein transition into practice in the Netherlands. In doing so, the country is making a shift from fragmented, small initiatives to a large-scale, coordinated and joint trajectory for sustainable earning capacity and measurable impact on societal goals.

To capitalise on the economic and sustainability benefits of the transition, the primary sector and consumer transitions must proceed in parallel. EPPIC will proactively guide this balance through three closely-aligned platforms:

  1. Agrotechnology: making plant-based protein production economically sustainable through plant breeding, optimised crop rotation strategies and supporting technologies.
  2. Value chains: delivering total valorisation for legumes (and other agricultural residue streams available in large volumes) through direct use in food or feed, or fermentative conversion to microbial or fungal biomass.
  3. Global growth: deepening existing trade partnerships with leading countries in the transition and supporting partners in finding international growth markets for innovative products, services and technologies.

All three platforms will run in parallel over the 6-year timeline of the project.


This approach provides multiple benefits:

  • For the economy - it catalyses 2.6 billion in economic activity and creates some 50,000 new jobs in sustainable protein chains.
  • For the environment - it offers a reduction of 640 million kg of CO2 equivalent emissions, 10 million kg of nitrogen, 7% land use for the Dutch diet and lowers soybean imports by 1 million tons. Moreover, it encourages a shift from 60:40 to 50:50 animal : plant-based protein in the average Dutch diet, with associated health benefits.
  • For farmers - it offers new perspectives and good returns for more than 7700 farmers.


The EPPIC project originates from a golden-triangle approach in which policymakers, academic institutions and the private sector align for maximum impact. The programme was initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture, ZLTO (a large farmer organisation from the South of The Netherlands), Wageningen University & Research, Larive International (a Dutch advisory firm specialised in strategy and business development in emerging markets), and the Next Food Collective (an industry-led collaboration platform for food system transitions).

The EPPIC consortium consists of 87 partners: 5 initiators, 56 industrial supply chain partners from the agrifood sector, 17 knowledge institutions and knowledge-intensive service providers, and 12 cooperatives. Through farmer organisations and cooperatives, 7700 farmers will participate in EPPIC.