Blog Posts Anne Pihlanto Agriculture, Climate, Economy, Environment, Food

Protein self-sufficiency is an important part of the security of supply, i.e. the ability to safeguard basic functions that are indispensable to society, even in exceptional circumstances. It is important to measure how much of the protein used is of domestic origin. In Finland, for example, the supply of supplementary protein to feed is weak. In 2013, domestic production of the most commonly used plants was only about 15% of their use.

For many reasons, it is not clever to rely only on one raw material. Preparations for climate change and its consequences are of essence. Poor weathers can destabilise our food security if it is based on homogenous raw materials. From the standpoint of security of supply, a versatile food chain is safe.

Climatic conditions are changing, and extensive crop areas in the US and Africa, for example, are becoming dry. Already now, the crop yields are dependent on irrigation in many areas and the decline in precipitation and groundwater reserves is exacerbating prospects. The current situation, in which soy and other protein sources are available at a favorable price, is likely to change.

Protein self-sufficiency is more important than ever.

Since the cultivation of imported protein – primarily soy – is not currently sustainable in many cases, protein self-sufficiency in now more important than ever. Therefore, three research-based scenarios to increase it were created in ScenoProt project, coordinated by Luke. In addition, there are three “wildcard scenarios”, in which the operating environment becomes more volatile and self-sufficiency is compulsory, market-oriented or abundant.

Scenario 1: Products rejuvenate the protein system

New healthy products change consumption and, consequently, demand for raw materials. Consumer awareness will improve, and healthy food is readily available.

Scenario 2: Technology driven and environmentally sustainable

The environment and production efficiency are improved in primary production and processing, expertise and technology is at international level. The food system is complex, but by encouraging parties to carry out agile changes, the target can be achieved.

Scenario 3: Politically driven and complex

Politics guides raw material production, processing and consumption towards the idea of sustainable development. Health-promoting product innovations and nutrition recommendations that reduce environmental impact increase.

Pulses are and excellent, climate-friendly source of plant-based protein. Photo: Kaisa Kuoppala.

The specialty of these scenarios is that, with current knowledge and technologies, self-sufficiency could have already been improved in the past. Therefore, the researchers have identified three additional scenarios, where self-sufficiency is the primary premise and public health and environmental sustainability are secondary.

Scenario 4: Compulsory self-sufficiency

The society drives changes and requires significant structural changes in primary production and consumption.

Scenario 5: Market-oriented self-sufficiency

Production is driven by profitability, rising internationality in terms of markets, actors and influences

Scenario 6: Abundant self-sufficiency

The current system raises the strengths of Finnish food industry’s competitive advantages as well as strong brands relying on know-how and technologies.

The above scenarios are prototypes that will be further processed, enriched, clarified and evaluated. Interesting questions for further studies include the phasing of events, the identification of actors, and the sizing of choices and measures in each scenario.

More information:
Scenoprot – Novel protein sources for food security

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