Photo: Danish Protein Innovation

On the trail of protein alternatives

Indigenous vegetable protein from Denmark looks set to replace much of the imported soya in animal feed, and the industry is doing all it can to accelerate developments.

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, sustainability remained high on the agenda of the Danish agriculture and food sector – with good reason. The industry is aiming for all food produced in Denmark to be climate neutral by 2050, and by 2025, the aim is to use only responsibly and sustainably produced soya in animal feed. Specifically, this means that soya can only be produced in legally cleared farmland. In order to move away from soya imports, the Danish agricultural industry has been pressing ahead with the cultivation of indigenous protein plants for some time.

Potential in grass protein
The Danish Protein Innovation collaboration, for instance, has been set up to develop sustainable proteins. It comprises leading manufacturers of food and animal feed and research institutions.

“There is great potential in this area and much progress has already been made on research, including the production of vegetable protein, primarily from grass, for use as animal feed,” explains Lars Hvidtfeldt from the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, who heads up the partnership. Studies by the University of Aarhus have revealed that concentrated grass protein with a protein content of around 50 per cent, roughly equivalent to that of soybean meal, can largely replace soya protein without compromising the growth of livestock or egg production. Fields growing grasses for protein production also play an important role in protecting the climate and the environment as they absorb and assimilate nitrogen better than grain or corn fields. In the next edition of the newsletter, we will be reporting on two promising Danish research projects on alternative proteins.

Read also: The taste of sustainable pork