EU Commission commits to the development of plant proteins

A European Commission (EC) report on plant proteins has proposed several strategies to develop production in an economically and environmentally sound way, World Grain reports.

“Plant protein is an essential component of our European agri-food sector,” said Phil Hogan, commissioner of agriculture and rural development. “However, due to a variety of market and climatic factors, European protein crop production is not sufficient to cover the growing demand.

According to the EC, demand for plant proteins in Europe amounted to about 27M tonnes of crude protein in 2016/17, and the EU imports around 17M tonnes/year of crude protein, 13M tonnes of which is soya-based.

The report – adopted by the EC on 22 November – presented a number of existing policies and new proposals that could help support the development of protein plants in the EU, including:

· Supporting farmers grow plant proteins with the proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by including them in national CAP strategic plans.

· Nurturing competitiveness in the industry through research and innovation from EU and member states’ research programmes, and doubling the budget of the Horizon Europe programme for 2021-27.

· The EC paying €200M in 2019 to fund the promotion of benefits of plant protein for nutrition, climate and environment.

· Increasing the sharing of knowledge/best practice in supply chain management.

The EC said that while animal feed remained the most important outlet (93%) for plant protein, the market had experienced considerable segmentation, with demand in high-value feed and food sectors growing.

“The food market for plant proteins is seeing double-digit growth, driven by demand for meat and dairy alternatives.”

The EC said there had been positive developments in the EU, with the soya area in the EU almost doubling to 1M ha since CAP reform in 2013, and pulses production almost tripling since 2013.

In April 2018, the European Parliament adopted a report calling for an EU strategy to promote protein crops, World Grain said.