Protein demand expected to increase this year

BRANDON — Demand for both Canadian plant and animal-based protein is likely to increase in the coming year.

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

During the same time period, demand for canola protein increased by nine percent, and soy protein demand ticked up by seven percent. 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 summer. The plant will produce a canola-pea protein blend called Nutratein, which is used in veggie burgers and 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 in other countries. As the largest producer of hogs in the world, China lost 40 percent of its herd to African swine fever in 2019.

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

Although China will require less feedgrains for its smaller hog herd, the door may be open for increases in hog exports. China’s meat consumption is about 60 percent pork. Historically, only a small fraction of that is imported from other countries. Given that China’s hog herd is expected to fall an additional 10 percent this year, the country will likely be looking to other countries to fill that demand.

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