Changing diets: Plant protein sustainability crucial for food security

The world may face a 58 million tonne shortfall in oilseed meal for animal feed by 2030

Meeting demand for sustainable plant-based protein is set to be a key challenge for future food security, according to a new report.

While meat consumption is on the rise in much of the developing world, it is beginning to fall in developed economies. In fact, average meat intakes in Western Europe fell by 9% from 1990 to 2009, FAOSTAT figures show.

But demand for meat is set to tail off sharply from 2020 because of a major shortage of oilseed meal for feed, claims a report from Paris-based consultancy BIPE and Sofiprotéol, which represents the French vegetable oils and proteins sector. And in wealthy nations, it argues that falling meat consumption is also part of a wider dietary transition.

“Ensuring the availability of the protein supply while protecting resources means increasing the crop yield on a sustainable basis,” said Sofiprotéol deputy CEO Michel Boucly.

Two dietary transitions

The report suggests that regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and India are just at the beginning of a first dietary transition, characterised by a shift toward more protein, initially from plant sources and then from animal sources – particularly meat. Plant protein sources increasingly are replaced by animal protein sources, and demand for oils also increases.

Developed economies went through this first transition during the 20th century, and now are entering a second transition, the report’s authors say.

“The second dietary transition is characterised by an increase in the percentage of plant protein sources, either by reducing the level of demand for animal proteins, as seen in France over the past ten years, or increased consumption of plant proteins, as is currently the case in North America,” they wrote, adding that vegetable oil demand also falls during this phase.

Health awareness

“This second transition is the result of societal and environmental factors, such as growing awareness of the importance of a balanced diet.”

Indeed, there is a mounting body of research highlighting the health benefits of a vegetarian diet (or even a reduced-meat diet), including lower BMI, increased fibre intake, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. And researchers increasingly are asking questions about how to address the dual issues of health and environmental sustainability through dietary patterns.

According to the BIPE-Sofiprotéol report, demand for plant-based proteins from 2010 to 2030 will grow by 43%, driven by Sub-Saharan Africa and India, which are likely to be at the beginning of the first transition phase during this period. Animal protein demand, meanwhile, will grow by a third – and a third of that growth is expected to come from China.

However, dietary transitions only account for 25% of the increase in meat demand, with the rest coming from population growth, the report predicts.

To meet the growing demand for plant protein – for both human and animal consumption – Sofiprotéol’s Boucly said: “It is essential to develop seed research, to encourage the plant health and nutrition businesses, and to develop innovative crop systems. First and foremost, however, it is the sustainable structuring of agricultural sectors that will enable us to meet the challenges that we are facing.”

Related News

Twenty of the resources experienced a peak-rate year between 1960 and 2010, the researchers found

Productivity may have peaked for many food crops, researchers warn

Vegetable oils account for 80% of edible oils consumed in the GCC, and most refining is done in the region

Edible oil investments more than double to $646m since 2003

Higher fibre intake could cut diabetes risk

Higher fibre intake could cut diabetes risk

“Foodstuffs developed in the course of the project will be turned into products, making them well-known brands that are attractive to consumers,” says head researcher Anne Pihlanto.

ScenoProt project will boost local protein production for real sustainability

Photo: iStock

Bühler aims to 'close the global protein gap' with algae, insects and pulses

Photo: iStock / RawPixel

Spotlight on meat-free trends & innovation in Europe: Country by country

France is backing plant-based & alternative protein sources like insects and algae (pictured). ©iStock

France ploughs billions into 'intelligent' proteins - seeks global leadership by 2030

Eight food industry players have already signed up to the project. © iStock

Just how nutritious are sustainable proteins?

© iStock/Marilyena

ScenoProt gives a preview of Northern Europe's protein preferences

© iStock/JPLDesigns

Introducing jackfruit: The next big thing in plant-based meat alternatives?

Products found to have differing meat content, when compared to identical products sold in other central European countries, include fish fingers and luncheon meat. ©iStock

European justice commissioner vows to end dual food quality practice in Central Europe

©iStock

Slovakian prime minister considers import restrictions to tackle dual quality food

Manufacturers are looking for a range of approaches to improve products' health profiles, the report says

What are industry’s science and technology needs?

Researchers are focusing on producing chicken meat (without the chicken) - but will it ever be cheap enough to compete with traditional chicken?

Meat without murder: How commercially viable is lab-grown meat?

The report's authors said they aimed to raise awareness of market opportunities for plant-based diets

Moving away from meat: Support needed to change behaviour

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.