Nicolas Martin, policy advisor at the European Feed Manufacturers Federation (FEFAC), raised such concerns when speaking at FeedNavigator’s recent face-to-face conference, Feed Protein Vision 2018, in Amsterdam.
He said the capping of the contribution of crop-based biofuels to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target is an effective instrument to limit negative effects of first generation biofuels while maintaining availability of protein-rich co-products from the biofuel sector for the European feed sector.
Long term, though, he said protein would be the limiting factor on the global market.
He told delegates that the deficit in concentrated sources of protein in the EU means the bloc is dependent on a limited number of supplying countries, namely the US, Brazil, and Argentina.
Any problem in one of these countries has immediate consequences on global market. Furthermore, he said, the EU is decreasing in importance as an oilseeds customer, and, in that respect, the EU-28 will have less control on supply on soy from those producing countries.
There is a need for protein efficiency along the livestock supply chain, he added.
He called for the upcoming EU protein strategy to be comprehensive, saying there is a need for consistency across EU policies such as the CAP, the biofuel and the EU deforestation action plans.
Indeed, FEFAC released a position paper yesterday on the EU Commission’s protein strategy.
The trade group’s president, Nick Major, highlighted that protein quality is key for the EU feed manufacturing and farming sectors:
“If the EU is serious about reducing the protein deficit, we need to get to a stage where improving protein quality through plant breeding is seen as a key long-term strategic driver for market investments."
The trade group emphasized the need for an EU policy to trigger pre-competitive research linking animal nutrition and plant breeding science.
It said such initiatives could address current identified challenges in relation to quality in terms of local sources of protein like rapeseed, sunflower and soy.
Researchers need to weigh up the benefits of using home-production of protein sources like rapeseed meal while taking into account, for example, its high non-digestible phosphorous content excreted by animals in the environment, according to the FEFAC paper.
The trade group said the existing EU FeedMod tool should be used to accurately assess trends in animal nutrition demand for proteins and amino acids requirements for the EU livestock population.
Data on forage production and grazing also needs to be included in the next phase of development of the EU protein balance sheet. “These are the most important sources of vegetable proteins for the feeding of ruminants.”
The trade group also wants a regional supply and demand model to be developed: “The potential feed uptake of home-grown vegetable proteins depends to a great extent on local and regional solutions reflecting specific animal nutrition demand patterns at local and regional level."