Proteins of the Future Challenge 2024

Protein Division Sponsored Student Competition

Organized by IFT’s Protein Division, this competition is created to bring students closer to the advances and challenges of protein innovation currently occurring in the science of food world.

By participating in this competition students will:

  • Work on ideas to solve real-life food global problems
  • Enhance their knowledge in food proteins (Functionality, environmental impact, extraction methods, nutritional value, etc.)
  • Apply previous acquired knowledge
  • Improve teamwork skills
  • Improve presentation skills
  • Gain exposure and prestige


Eligibility & Teams

  • All participants must be IFT student members
  • Teams of 3-5 students
  • Teams may be undergraduate students, graduate students, or both together
  • With or without mentor (e.g., professor, industry expert, etc.)
  • Students from different (or the same) universities around the globe can collaborate


Students will select one the five topics listed below. The students will then choose a specific protein/product example for the essay.

  • Topic 1: Environmental impact: Consumers are shifting protein consumption from traditional proteins to alternative proteins, therefore alternative proteins are being used more and more to develop new foods made from more suitable sources. What is the environmental impact of that shift? (Including increased production). Calculate/estimate the environmental impact of a specific product or product category made with an alternative protein(s) replacing a specific product or product category made with a traditional protein(s).
  • Topic 2: Scale up: Many alternative proteins show promising potential to replace traditional proteins in lab research. To use them as food ingredients, they will need to be extracted and commercialized in much larger volumes. How can lab-based protein extraction scale up to industrial capacities? Use a specific alternative protein and directly compare to current extraction methods of a traditional protein.
  • Topic 3: Functionality: Reaching certain textures or other sensorial attributes (like flavor) using alternative proteins is a challenge when developing new foods. Use a specific alternative protein(s) to demonstrate how it can have similar function (e.g. structural function or sensorial attributes) as a specific traditional protein in the same food product or product category.
  • Topic 4: Nutritional value: Different proteins have different amino acid composition and different values of digestibility and bioavailability. Propose a food product made with alternative proteins and show how it compares to a similar product made with traditional proteins in terms of amino acid composition, digestibility, and bioavailability.
  • Topic 5: Commercial / market research. Commercializing food products made with alternative proteins to the right markets is a challenge. Choose a specific product or product category to show how products made with alternative proteins can impact current and/or future market demands compared to its equivalent or a similar product or product category made with traditional proteins.

Entry Form

Deadline: April 30, 2024, 11:59 p.m. CT

Download Guidelines


Competition participants will be notified of their status prior to IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo. Monetary prices of $1000, $750, and $500 will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners respectively. Those on the first-place team will receive a free pass to the Professional Networking Event at IFT FIRST. Winners will be recognized at the IFT FIRST Protein Division Social as part of the Professional Networking Event, and they will be invited to present their idea during the event. There will be additional recognition through Protein Division communications.


A panel of experts in food proteins including academic and industry experts from the IFT Protein Division and international protein experts will judge the entries.

Judging criteria

The submission will be evaluated based of 5 aspects: Relevancy of the addressed problem, Scientific merit of the proposed solution, Innovation of the proposed solution, practical application of the proposed solution, and quality of the submission.