Rising protein demand expected in 2020

Canada able to serve both plant- and animal-based protein markets

File photo of a pea crop south of Ethelton, Sask. on Aug. 1, 2019. (Dave Bedard photo)

MarketsFarm — Demand for plant- and animal-based proteins alike is likely to increase in the coming year.

Since 2017, pea protein demand increased by about 13 per cent, Craig Klemmer, chief agriculture economist at Farm Credit Canada, said at Ag Days in Brandon, Man.

Over the same time period, demand for canola protein increased by nine per cent, and soy protein demand ticked up by seven per cent. The steadily growing demand is largely driven by consumer trends toward plant-based protein alternatives to meat.

“For market evolution and activities, it’s not all doom and gloom,” said Klemmer.

“As this market increases, we’ll see a lot of opportunities.”

A $65 million pea and canola processing plant is scheduled to open its doors outside of Winnipeg this coming summer. The Merit Functional Foods plant will produce a canola-pea protein blend called Nutratein, used in veggie burgers and in dairy-alternative beverages such as almond milk or pea milk.

Demand for Canadian animal protein is likely to increase as well, given the prevalence of African swine fever (ASF) in other countries. China, the world’s largest producer of hogs, lost 40 per cent of its herd to ASF in 2019.

“That’s almost 25 per cent of the world’s hogs out of the system,” Klemmer said.

Although China will require less feed grain for its smaller hog herd, the door may be open for increases in hog exports.

China’s meat consumption is about 60 per cent pork. Historically, only a very small fraction of that is imported from other countries. Given that China’s hog herd is expected to fall an additional 10 per cent this year, the country will likely look abroad to fill that demand.

— Marlo Glass reports for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting. Includes files from Glen Hallick of MarketsFarm.

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