Changes needed to ‘meat’ demand
A journal published this month explores how due to the effects of growing populations, by 2050 demand for meat protein will reach such high levels that steps will have to be taken to ensure that the necessary quantities and quality is maintained.
The scientists, lead by Dr Mike Boland of New Zealand’s Riddet Institute, proposed three changes to meet future animal-derived protein demand:
#1. Shifting protein sources up the supply chain
Prior to industrialisation, protein could be sourced locally by fishing in a nearby river or keeping a family pig which accrued very little wastage. Current supply chains on the other hand are extremely wasteful. According to a FAO-commissioned study,
Reducing the number of links between production and consumption of protein sources through changes in farming and retailing would allow for more effective management of the chain.
#2. Use of plant-based substitutes or extenders for animal-derived protein foods
There is a huge list of readily available plant based substitutes for animal derived protein. The highest protein content comes from foods such as nuts, the South American seed quinoa or algae such as spirulina which contain all the essential amino acids and in a dried form up to 71% protein content. Pea and hemp proteins have also been used in sports nutrition for some time and are now being adopted by food ingredient manufacturers.
# 3. Use of novel sources for both animal and human nutrition
Whilst exploring alternatives such as algae, or even laboratory grown meat, perhaps one of the most readily available non animal sources of protein is insects. In 2011 the European Commission offered a prize of £2.65m to the research institute with the best proposal for investigating “insects as novel sources of proteins”. Insects are already being eaten in 80% of the world’s nations, often in developing countries. Insects offer some of the best fat to protein ratio of any food source as well providing a source of calcium, iron & riboflavin.