31 Jul 2012

Research suggests reliance on animal protein will rise

11:07 pm on 31 July 2012

Initial results from a research project by New Zealand and Dutch scientists suggest consumer reliance on animal-based protein will increase substantially by 2050.

The catalyst for the project was a study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, carried out about five years ago, into the future world demand for protein.

Massey University's Riddet Institute principal scientist Mike Boland says the research is considering how the increased demand can be met in an environmentally sustainable way.

He says animal source protein is the most valuable nutritional protein.

Dr Boland says protein nutrition is an important and perhaps less considered area than total nutrition, with most of the studies on hunger and need focusing on calories.

He says if people don't get enough protein they won't grow properly or have good health, even if they have enough calories.

Dr Boland says the demand for protein is just as important as the demand for calories.

He says animal protein is more digestible and the balance of components is much closer to what they body needs, whereas many plant proteins are unbalanced in their composition.

Dr Boland says it's widely accepted that as countries develop, the consumer demand for animal protein increases.

He says as the world demand increases, consumers may need to consider eating offal and other meat products currently used for pet food.

Dr Boland says currently about 40% of human protein needs come from animal products.