EU feed manufacturers’ trade group, FEFAC, which helped develop the tool, described it as one that can help stakeholders monitor the balance of demand and availability of protein crops in the EU, and one that can help operators better understand market developments.
Nicolas Martin, policy advisor, FEFAC, said such data transparency was “something we had been sorely lacking.”
“There is a very lively debate around the protein deficit in Europe and this balance sheet, comprising official EU Commission figures, represents a comprehensive and accurate description of the different feeds and their contribution to EU protein supply.”
The balance sheet details EU production, consumption and trade of all marketable sources of proteins used in animal feed production including co-products and fishmeal and processed animal protein (PAP) sources.
“The first phase of this exercise does not cover forages produced on farm. That is the missing element. We will need to include those later on. For the moment, the sheet, as it stands, is a good starting point.”
Martin said the sheet also shows that from the nutritional perspective, it is not a case of a quick fix - vegetable protein sources have different nutritional profiles and substitution is not so simple.
“It works as a reality check for the impact of new protein options as well. The order of magnitude of the contribution of PAPs, for example, is completely different to that of other protein sources. Of course, it underlines that PAPs have more to gain,” he told us.
The tool also gives policymakers a dynamic platform to work from, he said. “The protein balance sheet will inform the broader discussion. It shows Europe is largely self-sufficient in the mid-range protein content feed ingredients. Moreover, it illustrates that we get more protein overall from cereals that we do from soybeans.”
FEFAC argues the tool will lend perspective to the debate around potential changes to the agricultural sector and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the manifold policies that could reduce the availability of protein sources for EU livestock farmers and increase dependency on imports.
Predictable access to a strategic supply of proteins to meet demand and to feed farm animals is crucial for the competitiveness and resilience of the EU feed and livestock sector, said the trade group.
The Commission has indicated that a second EU protein balance sheet will be published in autumn 2017 once data are available for the whole of marketing year 2016/17.