Improving the land occupation

The strategic role of amino acids in the European protein supply

With a self-sufficiency to protein sources which barely reaches 30%, the European animal productions are heavily dependent on imports of raw materials which are rich in proteins. The European need in protein sources is essentially satisfied with soybean meal which represents 64% of the European protein consumption. According to Unip1, the animal feeds sector of the European Union countries consumed about 30 million tons of soybean meal per year. The poultry sector is the first user of soybean meal with 50% of the consumption, and the swine sector is the second one with 28%. Variations in worldwide stock and the rate of the dollar have an immediate impact on the rates of the protein-rich raw materials and, as a consequence, on the competitiveness of the European feed industry and animal production sector. In pig production for example, it is estimated that the feed cost represent an average of 70% of the total production cost.

From a nutritional standpoint, it is possible to significantly limit the use of imported protein-rich raw materials. These nutritional measures involve reducing their inclusion in feed formulas by using cereals, whilst maintaining the balance of the indispensable amino acids through appropriate supplementation. It is possible to estimate that 100,000 tons of L-Lysine HCl and associated amounts of L-Threonine, DL-Methionine and L-Tryptophan correspond to a saving of around 3.5 million tons of imported soybean meal and an increase in the use of European cereals in equivalent amounts. The worldwide use of L-Lysine being at around 1.2 million tons, about 14 million hectares of land can moreover be saved by making the switch from soybean to cereals production. It is then possible to use this saved land to grow food.

The low dietary crude protein (CP) formulas, whose implementation was initially started in intensive livestock areas subject to environmental regulations, are gradually developing under the twofold effect of the increasing availability of cereals and the availability of feed-use amino acids on the market in ever-increasing numbers and amounts. In 2001/2002, amino acids (L-Lysine, L-Threonine, DL-Methionine and L-Tryptophan) represented about 17% of the protein supply of the 15 EU countries (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Feedstuffs contribution to pig feed protein supply

Today with the availability of L-Valine, it is possible to further reduce the dietary CP level. On the basis of a piglet feed, being at 70% SID Val:Lys dietary content and using L-Valine, it is possible to further reduce the dietary CP content by 2% point protein (Figure 2). Thanks to L-Valine, it is thus possible to further reduce the use of imported soybean meal while increasing the use of locally produced cereals.

Figure 2. The use of L-Valine allows to reduce the dietary crude protein level by 2% point protein and to use locally produced cereals instead of imported protein feedstuffs

The figures given in this article are taken from the proceedings of a forum organized by the FEFANA2 in 2003.

1 Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Plantes Riches en Protéines
2 European Association of Feed Additive Manufacturers: