The Donau Soja Protein Strategy for Europe

The overall goal of Donau Soja is a sustainable and European protein supply.  For this, the development of soy production in Europe is part of a wider change in how we produce and use protein.  The far-reaching consequences of protein production and use are now the subject of public debate.  Building on the Europe Soy Declaration, Donau Soja has developed this strategy document to make a comprehensive contribution to the public debate on behalf of all the members of Donau Soja. The foundation of the strategy is a holistic and science-based understanding of the role of protein in the sustainable development of agri-food systems.  The Donau Soja Science Advisory Board was consulted on the first draft before it was considered by the Donau Soja Board.  With the support of the Board, a revised draft was sent to all members who were invited to comment. All comments received were reflected in finalising the document. The strategy was unanimously passed by the General Assembly of Donau Soya in April 2018.  It is therefore a powerful statement from the agri-food sector as represented by Donau Soja of a commitment to support profound change.

The European Protein Challenge

Due to suitable climate and soils, many European farmers are remarkably good at growing cereal crops such as wheat, barley and maize. This supports high levels of production of carbohydrate-rich grains used mostly to feed livestock. This productive agricultural system depends on two major inputs into European Union farms: about 11 million tonnes of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and the high-protein meal from about 36 million tonnes of soybeans to provide protein supplement for feeding animals. The increase in plant protein requirements over the last 60 years in Europe is due largely to the increased consumption and production of meat and dairy products. After China, the European Union is now the second largest importer of soy from South America. While the European Union’s agricultural system as a whole is 71% self-sufficient in tradable plant protein, 86% of the plant protein imported to meet the 29% deficit is soy. This protein deficit is a fundamental challenge to the resilience, acceptance and performance of our agri-food systems. This is Europe’s Protein Challenge.    

Addressing the Protein Challenge

Addressing the Protein Challenge and delivering the Protein Transition requires a holistic approach. The system change needed can be regarded as a set of five pillars which are:

  1. Sustainable and responsible imports
  2. Increased production of grain legumes in Europe
  3. Improved use of existing and new protein resources
  4. Increased efficiency of protein use
  5. Healthier and more sustainable diets (Find here more information from the European Plant-Based Foods Association, ENSA)

Find the entire European Protein Strategy here.