Plants sourced protein is an indispensable component of animal nutrition and plays an ever-increasing role in human nutrition due to changing dietary habits more focused on plant-based diets.
The total amount needed – primarily for animal feed but with growing importance also for human consumption – sums up to 84 million tons of crude protein. Only 36% of this demand is covered from domestic production. Without doubt, Europe must and can do more in terms of increasing domestic protein production from plants. It is the declared policy goal of the European Commission and Member States to increase the domestic production of protein to reduce the European Union’s dependency on their imports.
The European seed sector stands ready to support the ramping up of both the demand and the production of EU grown plant sourced protein.
Euroseeds launches a position paper presenting insights on how breeders can support improving the quantity and the quality of the EU protein production.
There is no simple and easy solution to overcome the EU protein deficit. It will come from both a significant extension of the cultivation area of so far still niche protein crops, and from an increase of the production per hectare of the already established crops.
Breeders are already strongly engaged in contributing to consumers’ demand for more local, traceable, sustainable and secure protein production, also addressing farmers’ needs for higher and more stable yields, increased pest resistance, and new qualities.
Past experience proves that not only the offering of new products (the “market push”) drives the development of a new market, but to the same – and sometimes even greater extent – the demand (the “market pull”). For the creation of both market push and market pull, the establishing of effective incentives and reliable long-term framework conditions by policy makers is an indispensable necessity.
Breeders are willing to play an active role to enable it, provided the necessary policies are established to support these efforts.
Increasing the domestic protein production to reduce dependency on imports, increase diversity in crop use and lower carbon footprint – needs the following framework conditions:
- EU administration and legislator to provide clear commitment and steering to Members States and stakeholders
- EU and Member States to provide meaningful and long-term incentives to stakeholders
- Innovation-friendly framework conditions for competitive research and development
- EU bodies to support educational communication to consumers on the benefits of plant protein-based food and the use of domestically produced food and feed
- Favourable framework conditions enabling growers’ competitiveness and profitability
Euroseeds, considering the Green Deal and the related Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies and related objectives, calls on the European Commission to take a leading role in promoting the domestic cultivation and use of plant sourced protein.