The demand for protein sources of European origin is increasing, but none of the current available European protein sources has a price – quality ratio that is competitive with soybean meal from South America. This is the conclusion of a recently published study of Wageningen UR.
Promising, but not yet competitive
Breeding programs are required to increase the yield per hectare of some protein sources, e.g. European cultivated soybeans, oil seeds, grain legumes, and lucerne. Moreover, there is a need for new and more refined extraction techniques to utilise some other proteins as animal feed ingredients, like pea protein, grass protein, protein from algae and duckweed. Knowledge regarding the nutritional value of some protein sources, e.g. quinoa, seaweed extract, leaf protein and insect protein for application in pig and poultry diets is lacking. As such digestibility studies are necessary to generate this information.
Currently, imported soybean meal is one of the most important protein sources in pig and poultry diets. It is a high quality protein source with a reasonable amount of energy and a relative low cost price. Within the category of oil seeds, European cultivated soybean meal seems the most promising alternative. Pea seems the most promising representative of the grain legumes. In long term, leaf proteins, aquatic proteins and insect proteins might also contribute in reducing soybean imports.
The available amount of arable land that is potentially available in Europe for protein crop cultivation is estimated to be at least 2.4 million hectares. A further increase will reduce the area available for cereals and tuberous plants like potatoes and sugar beets. Cultivation of leaf proteins, aquatic proteins and insect proteins does not claim currently used arable land.
Tuesday June 11, 2013/ Wageningen UR/ Netherlands.