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Editor's note

Looking to the future with alternative proteins

The Good Food Institute, a non-profit organisation, has received sub­stantial funding from China to promote the product development of alternative proteins and to scale up the alternative protein industry.

The increased investment in alternative proteins has been compared to the surges in funding in China for solar panel technologies and electric vehicles, prior to market booms in these industries. China appears to be positioning itself to dominate the alternative protein sector in anticipation of a significant growth in global demand for these products.

It is postulated that the constant threat of animal diseases as well as value chain disruptions due to Covid-19, could be some of the reasons for the initiative.

Homing in on consumer needs

In South Africa, the Soya Bean for Human Consumption Symposium held by the Oilseeds Advisory Committee (OAC) late last year, was a step in the right direction to promote and investigate the future of increasing domestic soya bean consumption. In addition, numerous studies have been funded by the OAC to better understand the requirements of the South African consumer with regard to soya-based products.

We are optimistic that this market will grow robustly in South Africa, provided the consumer is offered quality, flavourful products.

Another excellent year of growth

The growth in soya bean plantings from 827 100 ha in 2021/22 to 910 000 ha in 2022/23 is a positive sign for the industry. The Free State has taken the lead with an expansion of 12%. Unfortunately, it is anticipated that due to new entrants in the market and excessive wet weather in certain areas, lower yields will result in the harvested crop to be below that of 2021/22.

The increase in sunflower hectares from 477 800ha to a current estimate of 580 000ha is encouraging and could result in an improved crop size, but is still below the required amount for the country. The cost benefits for producers to grow oilseeds over maize, are currently very clear. Soya beans tend to tolerate excess water better and input costs are lower.

Prices for oilseeds are expected to stay firm in 2022/23 due to global strength in these markets as well as the robust demand in South Africa. The soya oilcake/oil crush volume for the calendar year 2021 was 1,3 million tons – the highest in history.

The canola crop of close on 197 000 tons in the Western/Southern Cape for 2021 is encouraging, albeit mainly at the expense of the barley industry which is going through a challenging period. The expansion of the canola industry has been a very positive contribution to oilcake demand in South Africa.

Enjoy this jam-packed issue of Oilseeds Focus.