Tapping into sustainable plant proteins for greater food security

  • 09.02.2022
  • 2:01

Meeting demands for sustainable plant-based protein has been a key challenge for the future of food security. Although animal proteins remain the leading source of protein for consumers worldwide, the reality is that consumer demand and interest in plant proteins have never been greater, and offering plant protein alternatives would be a low-risk, profitable maneuver for those involved in the production side of the food industry. Not only this, plant proteins aid in establishing food security and environmental well-being.

Positive change has come about in recent years, with a rising number of the environmentally-conscious consumer, as well as an increase in sustainable and eco-friendly food-related technology. On this, falling meat consumption is part of a global dietary transition. This shift to plant proteins not only promotes greater food security, but also aids in environmental resource protection, since sustainable plant proteins require less natural reserves to aid the farming and production process.

For example, in countries where meat consumption is high, the demand for oilseed meal for feed puts strain on protecting resources. So we need to take into consideration how to increase the crop yield on a sustainable basis. Not only for human consumption, but for animals as well. NapiFeryn BioTech is one of these innovative companies looking to modernize the food industry through novel technology. Aware of the growing consumer interest in alternative sources of protein, NapiFeryn BioTech has developed ultra-sustainable and economically gainful technology capable of transforming waste products left over from the rapeseed oil-pressing industry into much-needed resources. Not only will this technology enable the oil-pressing industry to implement more sustainable processes, but will also enable consumers to channel their environmental concerns into action.

As we struggle to feed our growing global population, will plant proteins trump meat proteins? Meat protein production demands significant amounts of our global supply of energy and natural resources. Production of animal proteins is viewed as less “environmentally economic” when compared to the production of plant proteins. On a positive note, the growing awareness of the large amount of greenhouse gases generated globally through livestock production is recognized by both consumers and food manufacturers alike.

Accordingly, demand for plant-based proteins will continue to rise, on the premise of physical health, food security and environmental protection. To meet the growing demand for plant protein for both human and animal consumption, it’s essential that we keep on developing seed and oil research – to encourage sustainable innovation across farming and production systems.

Sustainable farming and development should take three dimensions into account, economic; environmental and social accountability. This means that farming and production systems need to be profitable, yet be beneficial towards people and environmental resources. Referring to SDG2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, it is made clear how important the promotion of sustainable agriculture is to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The heightened emphasis on sustainable plant proteins is due to the fact that the recent achievements in agriculture have led to major improvements in productivity that have enabled food production to keep up with population growth, whilst combating food insecurity and environmental degradation.

From a water perspective, it has been proven to be more efficient and cost-effective to produce and consume plant proteins, rather than animal proteins. Not to mention, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing meat consumption, more farming space is also made available to plant additional crops – which feeds more mouths than meat farming could do. These reductions would reduce the direct threats to natural resources (water consumption and erosion), habitability and food security.

The industry is also becoming more innovative on the front of lessening food wastage, in a bid to lessen food scarcity. For example, ALSEOS extracts plant proteins from what is called rapeseed cake, which is the byproduct of the rapeseed oil-pressing process. Rapeseed is a bright, yellow-flowering plant grown in the EU more than anywhere else in the world. Due to its local production and the circular business model of NapiFeryn BioTech, the technology is highly sustainable. This example displays how the production of sustainable plant proteins aims to support food security, whilst cleaning up production systems for added environmental protection.

Because of the environmentally friendly process of their technology, NapiFeryn BioTech has been recognized for this potential by the European Commission, and so has been chosen to participate in their research and funding programme, Horizon 2020. Through the funding and support they have provided, NapiFeryn hopes to continue to grow and to fill the gaps within the food industry. Due to the potential to address environmental, economic, and ethical concerns, NapiFeryn’s growth will benefit the European economy and take a step in the right direction towards global sustainability. Overall, this innovative technology has the potential to make a positive impact on our world, conserving the Earth’s natural resources.

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