In a detailed position paper ((18) PR 8), made public in the margins of the DG AGRI stakeholder survey on the European Protein Plan, FEFAC raises attention to the “protein quality” dimension of the different protein sources and their use in animal nutrition. FEFAC stresses that different protein sources are needed for different animal nutrition requirements.
FEFAC President Nick Major: “We notice the strong political interest to reduce the EU protein deficit and the inherent reliance on imports. It should be clear, however, that market demand from the feed industry for European vegetable protein is based on the nutritional requirements of livestock, i.e. identifying the optimal protein quality in available feed materials and delivering them to food-producing animals. We, therefore, need to ensure that the quality and nutritional composition of the protein is fully taken into account.”
The quality of protein is determined by factors such as amino acid profile, digestibility, protein concentration and presence of anti-nutrients. Animal nutrition science has already enabled the continuous improvement of protein efficiency in livestock farming, for example through phase feeding and the use of synthetic amino acids to more closely match the animal’s requirements. However, the adoption of new technologies such as innovative plant breeding will be necessary to further boost the inclusion rate of European proteins in feed formulation.
FEFAC President Nick Major: “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. EU policy development will need to reflect the ambition of wanting to reap the benefits of the most advanced plant breeding technologies so they can be brought to farm level.”
As part of 7 key recommendations, FEFAC also advises the European Commission to invest in effective tools that can measure the impact of all relevant EU policies on the strategic protein supply of the European feed sector.