Some days ago I got the opportunity to join in the 7th Protein Summit, held in Rotterdam. This event, that was designed to build relationships between the players in the animal and vegetable protein sector, gave me a lot of new or more detailed insights in what is going on in de field of protein.
For one, protein is scarce. The global demand for protein for human food on the one hand and animal feed on the other is so huge, that we will run out of these essential commodities soon. A shortage of 20 percent on the soy market was predicted by a Rabobank analist and further growth of the demand for protein was put forward by a number of renowned speakers.
On a global scale the protein gap can be made smaller by innovation in the way protein is used. Clever combinations of animal and vegetable protein sources in blended ‘meat’ products, upgrading waist protein to feed or food and of course more efficient usage of the proteins available. That said, even the best use of the available commodities will not close the protein gap entirely. And with unbalanced supply and demand only the price mechanism will prevail as the instrument that steers where what protein goes.
Besides supplying animal protein the dairy farmers are a strong player on the demand side of protein as well. In essence it is simple, you need a lot of vegetable protein to make animal protein in de form of milk and meat. Being able to pay for the vegetable protein is key in the future were protein gets even more scares and thus expensive.
This brings me to the take away for me of the 7th Protein Summit. The valorisation of milk will be more and more essential. And just making a nice cheese or yoghurt will not do the trick. In the process the dairy sector maybe has to break with tradition. Until now, milk has been primary used for cheese making with whey as a –useful- by-product. However, with some really valuable proteins in milk, far more than in whey, there could be a future in harvesting the most valuable proteins from the milk, before the cheese making process. Getting the most value out of milk, that is the way to go even if one has to break with tradition.