According to a BIPE and Sofiprotéol research report, meeting global demand for plant proteins on a sustainable basis is set to become a key challenge for the world

According to a BIPE and Sofiprotéol research report, meeting global demand for plant proteins on a sustainable basis is set to become a key challenge for the world

BIPE and Sofiprotéol have published a research report on the ability of the oil and protein-rich crop sectors to meet global demand for oils and proteins in 2030, by addressing the challenges of population growth, changing diets and farmland management, as well as the development of renewable energies and chemistry.

Main conclusions:

  • The oil supply will adequately satisfy the world’s food, and renewable energy and chemistry demand in 2030.
  • The protein supply will meet the food demand of 8.4 billion people, and help diversify diets in all regions of the world. However, the increase in meat consumption will be hindered by the oilseed meal supply capacity. 
  • The challenge is to increase crop yields on a sustainable basis, as well as farmland, in order to respond to the trend in global protein demand.

 

Jean-Philippe Puig, Chief Executive Officer of Sofiprotéol, made the following comments: “Farming now plays an increasingly strategic role in terms of meeting the world's challenges. In an environment characterised by rapid population growth and economic and social development, not only can the oil and protein sectors support farming’s fundamental nutritional function, but they can also make a sustainable contribution to the transition to low-carbon economies and the development of renewable chemicals.”

Feeding 8.4 billion people in 2030 

The world’s population will increase by 22% between 2010 and 2030, which means an extra 1.5 billion people to feed. Changes in dietary habits resulting from rising living standards will also lead to an increase in the demand for food. Given that the majority of the world’s population is currently at the beginning of the first dietary transition (see definition below), the research report estimates that demand for plant oils will increase by 39% by 2030, while demand for plant and animal proteins will increase by 40%. 

Accordingly, global food demand for plant oils will reach 172 million tonnes in 2030, while the growth will primarily be driven by China, Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Global demand for plant proteins will increase by 43%, with a sharper increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Demand for animal proteins will increase by 33%, primarily driven by China, which alone will account for one third of the demand by 2030. 

Global demand for meat will increase by 30% compared with 2010, and will reach 380 million tonnes in 2030, resulting in a 53% rise in global demand for oilseed meal for animal feed. The growth in demand for meat will slow from 2020, as it will be restricted by the oilseed meal supply capacity. This growth will be mainly in emerging countries, which are beginning their first dietary transition. Developed countries will begin their second dietary transition (see definition below), which is characterised by an increase in the percentage of plant proteins. 

In view of these changes, BIPE concludes that it would be possible not only to feed the world’s 8.4 billion people in 2030, but also for dietary habits to become more diversified in every region of the world. Most of the population will not have completed its first dietary transition in 2030. The demand for meat could therefore increase sharply after 2030 as a result.

Ensuring the availability and sustainability of the protein supply

According to the report, global farmland will increase by 3.4% compared with 2010, and will total 1,586 million hectares in 2030. On a regional level, the results will be a decrease in farmland in North America and Europe, together with an increase in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In these expanding regions, potential land reserves – i.e. excluding crops, forests, and protected and heavily populated areas – should enable additional land requirements to be met.

BIPE estimates that one farmed hectare will allow around 5.3 people to be fed, compared with 4.5 in 2010 and 2.3 in 1960. The sharp increase observed over the past 50 years will therefore continue at the same rate, thanks to the improvement in crop yields.

In this regard, the report highlights the potential yield offered by oilseed crops like rapeseed or sunflower, so as to guarantee availability of the plant protein supply while limiting the land impact. In fact, according to the report, 75% of the increase in the global production of rapeseed and sunflower is explained by an increase in yields, which is based on improved varieties and farming techniques, while 25% is due to an increase in land. 

In the opinion of Michel Boucly, Deputy CEO of Sofiprotéol: “Ensuring the availability of the protein supply while protecting resources means increasing the crop yield on a sustainable basis. To achieve this aim, it is essential to develop seed research, to encourage the plant health and nutrition businesses, and to develop innovative crop systems. First and foremost, however, it is the sustainable structuring of agricultural sectors that will enable us to meet the challenges that we are facing.”

Contributing to transitions to low-carbon economies to the development of renewable chemicals

The BIPE report shows that the supply of plant oils will exceed the demand for food, thereby resulting in surpluses for non-food usages, including contributing to transitions to low-carbon economies via the production of bio-diesel, and to the development of renewable chemicals. The excess supply of plant oils will enable the demand from both the energy and chemical sectors to be met.

Global diesel demand will register growth of 38% over the period between 2010 and 2030, three-quarters of which will be driven by China and India, where consumption will double and triple respectively. Global bio-diesel demand will increase at an even faster rate if it is driven by requirements to incorporate it into the mix in Europe, the Americas and Asia, and will reach 46 million tonnes by 2030, most of which will be conventional bio-diesel. This situation is expected to result in global plant oil demand of 40 million tonnes by 2030, i.e. an average increase of 5.5% per year. 

The excess supply of plant oils will also contribute to the development of renewable chemicals and to meeting a sharp increase in the demand for innovative synthetic products that are made from biomass, rather than from fossil-based raw materials. The outlets involve many sectors and industries (food, hygiene, detergents and cleaning products, cosmetics, plastic and rubber, paints and coatings, etc.). Global plant oil demand for the oleo-chemical industry is expected to see an average increase of 4.4% per year, and to reach 30 million tonnes in 2030. 

In conclusion, the use of oilseed crops for food – in the form of oils and protein, animal feed and food for humans – will account for 90% of global demand for oilseed meal by 2030. Accordingly, uses relating to energy and renewable chemicals will account for 10% of total demand. Although the overall potential supply of plant oils will exceed demand relating to food, energy, and chemicals, meat consumption will be limited by the supply of oilseed meal, and could increase sharply after 2030. Accordingly, meeting global demand for plant proteins on a long-term basis is set to become a major challenge for the world. 

Definitions

On an individual scale, the first dietary transition is characterised by growing demand for protein, which is initially provided by plant sources, and then satisfied by sources of animal protein, and especially meat. It ends with the levelling off of total demand for protein, and the substitution of plant protein sources by animal protein sources. The transition is characterised by an increase in individual demand for oils. This first transition occurs at the same time as countries’ economic development and urbanisation. Developed countries experienced this transition during the 20th Century. Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and India are still only at the beginning of this transition.

The second dietary transition is characterised by an increase in the percentage of plant protein sources, either by reducing the level of demand for animal proteins, as seen in France over the past ten years, or increased consumption of plant proteins, as is currently the case in North America. The transition is characterised by a decrease in individual demand for oils. This second transition is the result of societal and environmental factors, such as growing awareness of the importance of a balanced diet.

Methodology 

BIPE prepared the research report with a global scope, using reference data from the United Nations, the FAO, the OECD, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Oil World, its own research and models, and appraisals from Sofiprotéol.

The research report provides an assessment of the ability of oil and protein-rich crops to satisfy demand for oils and proteins in 2030. It relies on the assessment of (1) demand relating to food, energy and renewable chemicals, (2) the supply of plant oils based on assumptions regarding land and achievable and sustainable yields, (3) and the conditions relating to a balance between supply and demand for oils and proteins.