EU Protein Plan

EU protein self-sufficiency has been a long-standing issue on the EU agenda for several decades. Recently political focus on EU dependency on imported proteins has sharpened in the context of the Green Deal objectives & as a consequence of the EU Contingency planning following crises such as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic & 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The renewed interest in an EU protein plan was introduced by the former EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan in 2017 as a reaction to the EU soy declaration that was signed by 14 farm ministers and which highlighted the need to increase the production of home-grown protein crops in order to tackle the EU protein deficit. The main purpose of the EU Protein Plan is to identify consumer demand for proteins and which range of measures could increase the competitiveness of EU protein crops. Some of the possible policy options were listed in the report on the development of plant proteins in the EU

FEFAC fully supports the development of an ambitious, realistic long-term EU protein plan since the European compound feed industry is the largest user of proteins of vegetable origin. Following the publication of the EU protein plan in 2018[1], several Member states (FR, NL, BE, ES) published their national protein plans reflecting on the strategies to increase protein plant production. This positive development was further incentivized by the European Commission’s publication of a comprehensive EU Feed Protein Balance Sheets in 2019, covering all sources of feed proteins used for animal feeding in the EU. The detailed analysis clearly shows that the EU self-sufficiency is at a very high level of 78% of its total feed protein requirements mainly thanks to the production of forages (approx 43 % of total feed protein usage) but the real dependency lies with high protein content feed materials (26% self-sufficiency)*. This deficit is to a large extent covered by imports of soybean meal.  

Reducing dependence on feed protein imports was recognized by the Commission as part of the larger transformation of the EU food system, ensuring a more resilient and autonomous food system. Additionally, in its Versailles declaration, the European Council called for boosting EU plant protein production to improve food security.

 * From an animal feed perspective it is important to differentiate between low-pro (less than 15% protein content), medium-pro (15-30% protein content), high-pro: 30-50% protein content) and super-pro (over 50% protein content) feed materials as animals are fed based on the nutrient content to fit animal nutrition requirements (eg. amino-acids).

External links:

An independent expert report on Market developments and policy evaluation aspects of the plant protein sector in the EU (2019)