European Protein Strategy: EU must increase protein production and diversify supply chains
- Only 29 % of the high-protein feedstock needed to balance animal feed in the EU originates from the Member States
- EU food and feed supply chains must be diversified
- Farmers need help to convert protein crops to attractive products
- The production of by-products from the processing of protein crops should be supported
Parliament proposes a European Protein Strategy to increase EU production of plant protein and reduce dependence on inputs foreign suppliers.
In the resolution on the European Protein Strategy, adopted on Thursday by 305 votes to 129 and 69 abstentions, MEPs stress that only 29 % of the high-protein feedstock needed to balance animal feed in the EU originates from the Member States, which makes the EU heavily dependent on imports of high-protein plant content from third countries. They call for a higher diversity of food and feed supply chains and increase in EU production.
Circular protein production
MEPs stress that a sustainable plant protein production increases the circularity in the food and feed value chains and can have benefits for the climate. They therefore call on Member States to consider introducing eco-schemes for legumes and grasslands and create dedicated protein plants funds. The Commission should consider the possibility of allowing protein-rich food crops to be grown on set-aside land, reads the adopted text.
Self-sufficiency of farmers
Placing farmers in the centre of the strategy, MEPs call on the Commission to help farmers to convert their crops to attractive products for food and feed by increasing crop resilience, protein yields and protein quality. To improve famers’ self-sufficiency, the nutrient loop should be closed by classifying alternative organic products such as recovered nitrogen from digestate, from biowaste, other manure products and food-industry waste as a substitute for chemical fertilisers, add MEPs.
Regulation of bioenergy
Protein production helps the EU to enhance the production of bioenergy products, say MEPs. They call on the Commission to present a regulation for utilization of side streams from plant protein extraction, agricultural residues and food production waste streams for the production of bioenergy.
Environmental footprint label
MEPs call for more research and development into the production and the safety of proteins in the EU and their impact, as well as for a science based and voluntary label allowing for comparison of the environmental footprint of food and feed.
EP rapporteur Emma Wiesner (Renew, SE) said: “To strengthen Europe’s food security, we need to diversify and boost our protein production. The European Protein Strategy aims to increase the EU production of plant-based proteins, and to diversify our protein sources. Its focus is on research and innovation taking into account national plans, practices, individual needs and agronomical circumstances, as well as that the sector is depended on sustainable and affordable inputs, such as energy, plant materials, fertilisers and a less heavy regulatory burden.”
At their meeting in Versailles in March 2022, EU Heads of State or Government identified increasing the EU production of plant-based proteins as a means to improve food security.