Current European plant protein crop production is not sufficient to cover the growing demand, notes the European Commission, which is exploring how to harness the potential of the Union’s output. Responding to the needs of farmers, producers and consumers, the Commission has adopted a report which reviews the supply and demand situation for plant proteins like soybeans, legumes, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, lentils and other pulses.

One of the key findings is that “a sustainable way forward” is urgently needed to keep pace with the rising demand for plant proteins across food and feed sectors.

There is high demand for plant proteins in Europe. In 2016/17, the EU demand amounted to approximately 27 million tons of crude protein and the EU’s self-sufficiency rate varies substantially depending on the source (79 percent for rapeseed and 5 percent for soya). 

As a consequence, the EU imports annually around 17 million tons of crude protein, of which 13 million are soya based. However, there are positive trends: the soya area in the EU has doubled to almost one million hectares since the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform in 2013. Similarly, in the case of pulses such as field peas, faba beans, lentils, and chickpeas, production has almost tripled in the EU over the last five years.

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