06/06/2019 – News / Food Processing / Innovation / Protein / Finland

Finland takes action to enhance protein self-sufficiency

A new report by Finland’s government-funded innovation unit VTT and VYR (the Finnish Cereal Committee) presents an action plan for using grains, grass, fisheries, insects and cellular agriculture more efficiently as sources of protein in the production of both food and feed.

 

Raising the share of domestic production at EU and national level is important for food security, for example, due to the unstable market conditions attributable to climate change. And Finland is in an excellent position to enhance its protein self-sufficiency while building a sustainable, carbon-neutral food chain, suggests the new VTT-VYR joint study.

 

Demand for domestic forage protein

 

The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners’ (MTK) Secretary for Cereal and VYR’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Max Schulman, said the EU has prioritised the replacement of forage soybean with protein sources produced in Europe. “Many operators have, in fact, already started to replace forage soybean with domestic sources of protein,” he advised. “A many-fold increase is expected in the use of forage based on domestic protein sources in the near future. However, this requires targeted breeding efforts for high quality cultivars, as well as allocating significantly larger areas for the cultivation of protein crops and increasing their yield,” he said.

 

Plant-based and alternative animal sources 

 

The consumption of plant-based protein products in food in Finland has increased since protein self-sufficiency was previously studied in 2015. The growth is expected to continue, with consumers searching for alternatives to proteins from animal sources. However, successful growth requires co-operation and development throughout the supply chain, including improvement in the cultivars, contract farming and ingredient industry.

 

“In addition to substantial research efforts, building a network and business models for operators are critical to enable the efficient utilisation of grass, insects and cellular agriculture in protein production,” pointed out VTT’s Research Team Leader Emilia Nordlund.

 

The fisheries industry could also play a key role in enhancing Finland’s protein self-sufficiency, but not without implementing significant measures related to maintaining the viability of fishing as a livelihood in both inland and coastal fishing communities.

 

VYR’s working group on protein

 

To put the measures into practice, VYR has set up a working group on protein, chaired by Emilia Nordlund. This working group mainly focuses on cereals, legumes, oilseeds and grass, with the aim of raising Finland’s status as a model country for protein self-sufficiency and sustainable food production and as an exemplary operator in the EU.

 

Operators from all sections of the supply chain are invited to join the working group.

 

The report (in Finnish) is available here:

https://cris.vtt.fi/files/24247901/RAPORTTI_Toimeenpanosuunnitelma_Suomen_proteiiniomavaraisuuden_nostamiseksi_julkaistava_versio_8.5.2019.pdf

 

For further information, contact Emilia Nordlund, VTT’s Research Team Leader at: emilia.nordlund@vtt.fi, tel. +358 40 504 2963

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