In this podcast of the Rural Futures Hub series, brought to you by Business News Wales, host Carwyn Jones speaks with Prof Alison Kingston Smith, Aberystwyth University, Prof Joe Gallagher, Aberystwyth University and Dr Catherine Howarth, Aberystwyth University, with a focus on alternative proteins and farming in the future, including options such as the production of protein from red clover, insects, and oats.
The UK typically imports over £3 million tonnes of soy every year. This comes mostly from South America but USA is also a producer. Just under half of imported soy is used for animal feed, the remainder as human food. Soy turns up in a variety of processed foods as it is an excellent source of protein. For instance, tofu is basically a cheese made from processed soy beans.
To support global demand for soy there has been extensive clearance of rainforest in South America, with obvious consequences for climate change. Since 1990 the area of Brazilian Amazon used for soy cultivation has increased seven-fold. This is not sustainable (or ethical?). Finally, dependence of many industries on one product, and a limited supply chain is a risk at individual business and national level.
We therefore need to find alternatives to soy, ideally that can be home grown and fit a sustainable farming future profile.