The protein transition is gaining ground in the Netherlands and has major implications for food supply and climate. This development may also become more influential for Dutch growers in the coming years.
Rationale for protein transition
The protein transition in the Netherlands is in full swing and is seen as a crucial development toward a more sustainable food supply. This transition to more plant-based protein consumption and production also plays an important role in the climate agenda. In recent years, the protein transition has received increasing attention in the Netherlands. The national goal is to shift the current balance of 65% animal protein and 35% alternative (including vegetable) protein in our food to 40% and 60%, respectively, by 2030. This ambition requires fundamental changes in the entire food chain, with the cultivation of natural proteins from Dutch soil also playing an increasing role.
Scaling up the Netherlands
In July 2022, 56 organizations signed on to the national Green Deal Protein Rich Crops, which aims to scale up the cultivation, processing and consumption of homegrown protein crops. In addition to increasing self-sufficiency and promoting sustainable agricultural practices, this Green Deal increases economic attractiveness for farmers.
The growing demand for homegrown vegetable protein means that the Dutch arable sector sees many opportunities for growing new crops. In this regard, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency also sees a promising new export market in vegetable protein sources. Currently, more than 250 companies in the Netherlands are already active in this sector, some of which are already successfully exporting abroad (Rijksoverheid 2023).
A good example of a vegetable protein source from Dutch soil is field beans. Field beans are characterized by their early maturation and delivery of nitrogen to the soil. With yields of 5 to 8 tons per hectare and a protein content of 25 to 32%, field beans offer a significantly high protein yield. They are widely used as a substitute for concentrate feed for cattle and are increasingly finding applications as a vegetable protein source in human consumption. In addition, field beans offer benefits such as nitrogen neutralization for the next crop, promotion of healthy root structure in the soil, higher potential for protein yield and successful follow-on cropping.
The importance of sustainability is increasing in Dutch agriculture. Here at SmartFarm, we are only too happy to contribute to this. In fact, our application allows farmers to use their resources more efficiently. Wondering how we do this?
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