Alternative protein sources could help boost food security

Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

Alternative protein sources could help boost food security

Plant, insect and cell-farmed proteins could replace traditional soy and animal products as major protein sources in Finland and the European Union, a new report shows.

The report comes in response to growing food security concerns and increasing demand for alternative protein sources in Finland and the EU. To combat this, Finnish researchers developed a plan that uses domestic grains, grass, insects, cellular agriculture and fisheries as sustainable, efficient and carbon-neutral protein sources.

“The EU has prioritised the replacement of forage soybean with protein sources produced in Europe. Many operators have in fact already started to replace forage soybean with domestic sources of protein,” said Max Shulman, the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners’ (MTK) Secretary for Cereal and VYR’s Chairman of the Board.

“A many-fold increase is expected in the use of forage based on domestic protein sources in the near future.”

However, achieving this will require profound changes to current agricultural and production practices — including cultivar improvement and further cooperation between contract farms and the ingredient industry.

Plant production “requires targeted breeding efforts for high-quality cultivars, as well as allocating significantly larger areas for the cultivation of protein crops and increasing their yield”, Shulman said.

Fisheries would also need to put measures in place to ensure that fishing remained viable as a livelihood for inland and coastal communities.

VTT’s Research Team Leader, Emilia Nordlund, added that “building a network and business models for operators are critical to enable the efficient utilisation of grass, insects and cellular agriculture in protein production”.

To put these measures into practice, VYR has set up a working group on protein, chaired by Nordlund. The working group on protein mainly focuses on cereals, legumes, oilseeds and grass, and aims to raise Finland’s status as a model country for protein self-sufficiency and sustainable food production.

Image credit: ©

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