Federal budget 2024: Germany invests €38 million in the protein transition, setting sights on field leadership 

The Budget Committee of the German Bundestag have announced €38 million in funding in 2024 for the sustainable protein transition, setting themselves on the path to international leadership in this growing field.

Also available in German.

18 November 2023

The German federal budget was decided by politicians in the Bundestag

The Budget Committee of the German Bundestag have announced funding of €38 million in 2024 for the sustainable protein transition, members of the governing coalition revealed on Friday. 

The measures adopted include a stronger focus of the German protein crop strategy on human nutrition, the expansion of the public research funding for plant-based foods and cultivated meat, support in the transformation for farmers and the establishment of a Proteins-of-the-Future centre. 

The Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), a non-profit think tank in this field, welcomes this ground-breaking decision. The coalition is thus taking a major step towards the promotion of alternative proteins set out in the coalition agreement and the transition to a sustainable and crisis-proof food system. 

Germany is catching up with other countries 

In Germany, there have been isolated funding measures in this area in recent years. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture is funding projects on alternative proteins, including research into cultivated fish. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding projects in the NewFoodSystem innovation area and the Cellzero Meat project. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is supporting near-market projects in scaling up with its Industrial Bioeconomy funding programme. There are also other small projects at federal and state level. 

However, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) from June 2023, the funding measures in Germany have so far tended to be uncoordinated individual measures that do not follow a coherent overall strategy for the development of the sector and are also significantly lower than in other countries. 

The Netherlands has made a record investment of 60 million euros to develop an ecosystem for cultivated meat and precision fermentation. Denmark has presented the world’s first strategy for the plant-based sector and announced that it will invest the equivalent of 168 million euros in the sector. The UK has announced that it will set up a research centre for alternative proteins and is also investing in the sector. France has invested 65 million euros in research and scaling up the plant-based sector. With the investments now announced in the 2024 federal budget, Germany is joining the group of countries that are investing heavily in the sector.

Competence centre as an opportunity for a national roadmap

Pooling activities in a new centre of excellence could now make it possible to bundle and strategically realign the previously rather scattered activities so that Germany can exploit the potential of alternative proteins for climate, environmental protection and public health  and position itself as a strong innovation location in this sector. 

A first step for this new centre should be the development of a comprehensive roadmap for the protein transition that defines measurable goals for the development of the sector and sets out what needs to be done on the part of industry and politics to position Germany at the forefront by 2030. The roadmap should bundle all relevant aspects of the topic into a comprehensive overall strategy: the definition of research priorities, the coordination of public research funding, the support of companies with regulatory issues, the development of production capacities and the role of farmers in the transformation. 

Ivo Rzegotta, Senior Public Affairs Manager Germany at GFI Europe: 

“With this decision on the protein transition, the coalition is taking a big step towards the transition to a sustainable food system laid out in the coalition agreement. The agreed funding measures for research and transformation will put Germany on the path to becoming a leader in this emerging field. The announced Competence Centre Proteins of the Future offers the opportunity for work on alternative protein sources in Germany to be better coordinated and aligned with a strategic goal in future. Germany needs a roadmap for the transition towards more alternative protein sources and such a centre can be the first step in developing such a strategy with all relevant departments and stakeholders.”