The future of livestock in a sustainability-conscious world

Ian ROberts af feagWhile there are growing global calls for moving towards plant-based diets, Ian Roberts, Bühler’s chief technology officer, told the company’s Annual Results event that “people will keep eating meat … and the question is how can we produce it more sustainably”

Sustainable feed for livestock is an area where improvements can be made, according to Mr Roberts, with the aim being to “make the livestock value chain more sustainable”. He said an example of this is feeding insect protein to fish and then introducing aquaculture to poultry feed. While using insects as a human food source is not unusual in some cultures, particularly in South America, realistically, it is more likely that insect protein will be used in fish meal and chicken feed rather than in food for human consumption on a large, global scale.

However, he added that the quality of plant-based protein foods, particularly meat alternatives, has improved and processes such as lab-grown burgers can reduce the carbon footprint by 50 per cent. Additionally, he said that regulations will catch up with this emerging market and this should help manufacturers of plant-based meat.

Mr Roberts mentioned growing protein from bacteria and algae as methods for producing protein without relying on livestock.

“Textured protein using algae protein is something that will improve [but] there’s no silver bullet,” he told the event, adding that hybrid products, such as those which combine plants and meat, will play a role.

“Economics will drive this,” Mr Roberts said.

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