It is estimated that more than 1.1 million tonnes of vegetable proteins are consumed in Europe each year (Frost & Sullivan). Whilst some of this is used in animal feeds and pet foods, a significant amount is used for human nutrition.
Vegetable proteins have been used very effectively by manufacturers of meat products and meat preparations, by manufacturers of vegetarian and vegan products for many years to achieve the eating qualities demanded by their consumers.
Should a baby be intolerant to the lactose or any other constituent in dairy products, soya proteins can offer a primary source of nutrition the baby may be able to accept.
The soya bean is well known as being an important source of vegetable oil (about 18% of the bean’s composition). It also has a high protein content (about 38%), and this protein is of excellent nutritional quality containing all the essential amino acids necessary for human growth and development.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Soya bean production in the EU is limited due to agronomic and climatic reasons and operators must therefore rely very heavily on imports to cover industry needs.
Imports are critically important therefore for the vegetable protein sector and remain under constant threat due to potentially very low level presence of asynchronous and obsolete GMO events. The risk of finding trace amounts of these GMOs in imported products has been of increasing concern in recent years due to a variety of factors including the increasing area and number of GMOs cultivated around the world and the difference in the speed of GM authorizations between the EU and the originating countries.
Other vegetable proteins
Pea, faba beans, lupin and wheat: these vegetable species can provide food ingredients high in protein. The vegetable proteins naturally present in the seeds or grains are concentrated and purified to obtain different shapes: powder or texturized products.
Mainly made from peas produced in Europe and North America, pea protein is extracted from yellow pea (Pisum sativum) which represents a sustainable protein source and an alternative to the consumption of meat for the coming years.
Measuring protein quantity
EUVEPRO is concerned about proposals to move away from using the widely accepted nitrogen to protein conversion factor (PCF) of N x 6.25 factor for soya protein determination, and instead, to replace this with the factor N x 5.71.
The change to a PCF of 5.71 would have a significant negative impact on the perception of soya as a nutritious and high-quality protein, it results in an almost 10% reduction in the calculated protein content of soya products without any change in the composition of the product.