Joint letter to Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI)

Dear AGRI Committee Members and Substitutes,

Cc: ENVI, CONT, REGI, DEVE, FEMM, and BUDG Committees,

We are writing to you as a coalition of economic and non-economic interests, representing producers, farmers, environmental protection, animal welfare, international development, food and health organisations, and consumer co-operatives, to call on you to work towards a fundamental green and fair reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in this new Parliament.

Science tells us that we must act urgently and decisively to prevent catastrophic climate change, the collapse of biodiversity, and thereby safeguard our future ability to produce food. The European elections demonstrated that European citizens expect such action from this Parliament.

Agriculture is at the heart of the debate, both as a contributor to environmental degradation and as a sector on the frontline of its effects. While farmers cannot solve these crises alone, these issues can also not be solved without them, and without a large-scale shift to ecological farming practices, supported by the CAP. This will benefit the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the landscapes and the biodiversity of our countryside, the welfare of farm animals, our climate, and the lives and well-being of people both in Europe and in third countries.

In this light, the proposed changes to the CAP, as voted by the previous Agriculture Committee, are woefully inadequate to meet the magnitude of the environmental and social challenges facing Europe’s farming sector. CAP spending needs to be urgently redirected towards promoting nature and animal welfare friendly farming, and away from environmentally damaging farming practices.

We urge you to use your Parliamentary mandate to work towards a new CAP that will tackle the climate crisis, reverse the rapid loss of biodiversity, ensure healthy and sustainable consumption and production, and deliver quality rural employment and decent livelihoods for our farmers. Several amendments to this end have already been voted through in opinion-giving Committees [1].

Such an undertaking requires close collaboration between relevant Committees of the European Parliament. Agriculture does not exist in isolation, therefore a joined-up, inclusive and coherent approach to agricultural policy is urgently needed. Moreover, over the next five years, inter-committee collaboration will be needed to pursue closer alignment and coherence between the CAP and other policies that shape food and agriculture, to enable a genuine transition towards sustainable food systems.

We look forward to working with you towards the objectives outlined above, and remain at your disposal for further information.

Yours sincerely,

ACT Alliance EU - Karin Ulmer, Senior Policy Officer
Arche Noah – Seed Savers Association in Central Europe - Gonçalo Macedo, Agriculture Policy Coordinator
BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination - Noa Simon Delso , Project Manager
Birdlife Europe - Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer
Compassion in World Farming - Olga Kikou, Head of EU Office
Corporate Europe Observatory - Nina Holland, Researcher and campaigner
Eurogroup for Animals - Reineke Hameleers, Director
European Community of Consumer Co-operatives - Todor Ivanov, Secretary-General
European Environmental Bureau (EEB) - Celia Nyssens, Policy Officer for Agriculture
European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA) - Vinciane Patelou, Director
European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) - Nikolai Pushkarev, Policy Coordinator
European Vegetable Protein Association (EUVEPRO) - Nuria Moreno, Secretary-General
European Vegetarian Union (EVU) - Ronja Berthold, Public Affairs Officer
FERN - Nicole Polsterer, Sustainable Consumption and Production Campaigner
Four Paws - Andreas Manz , EU Farm Animal Policy Coordinator
Friends of the Earth Europe - Stanka Becheva, Food & Agriculture Campaigner
Greenpeace European Unit - Magda Stoczkiewicz, Deputy Director
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) - Génon K. Jensen, Executive Director
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe - Paola Hernández Olivan, Food Project and Policy Officer
Humane Society International/Europe - Alexandra Clark, Campaign Manager
IFOAM EU - Eric Gall, Deputy Director & Policy Manager
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) - Shefali Sharma, Europe Director
Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe - Henriette Christensen, Senior Policy Advisor
ProVeg International - Ronja Berthold, Public Affairs Officer
Safe Food Advocacy Europe - Bruno Menne, Policy Officer and Project Coordinator
Slow Food Europe - Yael Pantzer, Policy Officer
The Greenbaum Foundation - Jim Greenbaum, Founder & Managing Director
The Pollination Project - Ariel Nessel, Director


Open Letter to EU Ministers of Agriculture

Dear Ministers,

Today you are meeting in Brussels to discuss agriculture’s contribution to the European long-term strategic vision for a Clean Planet for all. This happens in the context of ongoing negotiations on the future of the CAP post 2020.

There is broad consensus over the fact that climate change is in part driven by what we eat and how our food is produced. The sustainability of our agricultural and food system is a political challenge that we have to tackle now and we have to work towards it together.

As the agri-food sectors involved in the processing of EU-grown agricultural raw materials into plant-based products and ingredients for the food and drinks markets mainly, we believe that plant-based food products offer great perspectives for farmers, the industry and society at large and therefore deserve greater support through EU policies.

Plant-based products have a lower environmental impact than animal-based products measured in terms of CO2 emissions, water use and land use. They are increasingly popular amongst consumers who are making conscious choices for an environmental-friendly lifestyle.

They are also nutritionally relevant as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Several EU Member States have included them in national dietary recommendations, for consumers to alternate between animal and plant-based source of proteins and fats.

Plant protein food products are a promising market for European farmers. As outlined in the Commission’s report on the development of plant proteins in the EU, cultivating plant-proteins for food brings highest profit margins for farmers.

To thrive and deliver on these promises not only for a few consumers but for the whole of Europe, the emerging plant-based sector needs to be able to compete on fair grounds. Plant-based food producers need to be able to continue to communicate clearly, in a non-misleading way with consumers to inform them about the variety of food choices.

The post 2020 CAP needs to embrace the plant-based evolution. We call on you to encourage and support the development of the plant-based food sector and work to ensure that farmers, the various sectors of the food industry and society can all benefit from it.

ENSA – The European Plant-based Foods Association
EUVEPRO – The European Vegetable Protein Association
IMACE - The European Margarine Association
StarchEurope – The European Starch Producers Association

Plant-based food as part of the solution in driving a Sustainable Diet

ENSA reaction to EAT-Lancet Commission report 

18 January 2019

The European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA) welcomes the EAT-Lancet report and its cut-through recommendations for feeding people healthily while protecting the planet. Current dietary trends, combined with projected population growth, will increase risks to people and the planet. A transformation to healthy diets from sustainable food systems is vital.

Since our establishment in 2003, we have been raising awareness about the role of plant-based products in moving towards more sustainable food production and consumption patterns. We are thrilled to see this recognition in the EAT-Lancet report that plant-based diets, such as vegetarian, flexitarian, or pescatarian diets, promote low risk of major chronic disease and overall wellbeing. The reference diet includes for example an intake of 0 to 50g soybeans per day which would give approximately up to 20g of protein per day. As an example, 1 glass of 200 ml soy drink per day or 1 serving of soya-based alternative to yogurt provide about 10g protein.

An increasing shift toward more plant-based diets will also enable food production to stay within environmental limits. The EAT-Lancet report  estimates that while ambitious changes in food production practices and major reduction of food loss and waste could induce limited reduction of  greenhouse-gas emissions in 2050, only a global switch to primarily plant-based diets could reduce GHGE enough to comply with the Paris agreement on Climate change.¹ Adopting more ambitious levels of production improvements in combination with dietary shifts and reductions in food loss and waste would also result in a contraction of cropland use.

In line with the recommendations of the EAT-Lancet report, we believe the transition to more plant-based diets should be supported by policies and practices encouraging production of nutritious and sustainable plant-based foods, and nudging consumers toward dietary shifts.

¹The Lancet. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. January, 2019

About ENSA

ENSA was established in January 2003 as the voice of natural soyfoods producers in Europe. As the plant-based food category has grown in size but also in diversity, ENSA too has followed the market evolution to become the plant-based foods association. Our members produce plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat, including drinks (based on soy, rice, oats, almond, coconut etc), alternatives to other dairy products (alternatives to yogurt, desserts, creams, ice creams, margarine, cheese) and meat alternatives (tofu, tempeh, seitan, burgers, ready meals etc).

ENSA is an association of internationally operating companies, ranging from large corporations to small, family-owned businesses with an annual turnover close to €1 billion. Since its establishment, ENSA has been raising awareness about the role of soy and a plant-based diet in moving towards more sustainable food production and consumption patterns.

For more information about ENSA, please visit or contact the Secretariat.

ENSA Secretariat
Rue du Luxembourg 22-24
1000 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 761 66 72
Website: www.ensa-eu

SAC Position Paper - Human and Planetary Health: The Power of Plant Based Eating

Our food system is at the centre of many of the critical environmental, health, social and economic challenges we confront in the 21th century. Food sustainability, food security and feeding the 815 million who are hungry are central issues which now exercise the minds of businesses, governments and civil society as never before. Put this in the context of a population that will grow from 7.3 billion in 2015 and reach 9.7 billion by 2050 (with two thirds of these living in cities), and changing dietary patterns, with dairy and meat production expected to increase by 65% and 76%, respectively, then the challenge becomes even more daunting. According to the United Nations, food production will need to increase by 60% by 2050, while many others predict a doubling, based on business as usual scenarios.

Today the world bears witness to a dramatic nutrition transition to more western style diets. Wealth, rapid urbanization and the industrialization of our food systems are driving a surge in resource intensive meat and dairy products and consumption of products containing high amounts of sugars and fat (i.e. energy), the main causes of an exponential rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Latest forecasts suggest that over 50% of the European population is overweight and more than 20% are obese. Unhealthy diets are the leading factor for all healthy life years lost in Europe. Chronic diseases account for 70%-80% of healthcare costs, corresponding to an estimated €700 billion per year in the EU - a figure likely to grow. Worldwide, in 2016, more than 2 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese. The World Health Organization has estimated the direct costs of diabetes alone at more than US$827 billion per year globally.

SAC Position Paper - Human and Planetary Health: The Power of Plant Based Eating (PDF)

ENSA statement - Growing demand for plant-protein foods: good for health, good for the environment, good for farmers!

ENSA, the European Plant-Based Foods Association, welcomes the European Commission’s report on the development of plant proteins in the European Union. We welcome in particular the Commission’s commitment to promote the benefits of plant protein for nutrition, health, climate and environment and to widely communicate the benefits of plant proteins.

Speaking at the Plant Protein Conference in Vienna, Agriculture Commissioner Hogan said: “(Plant-proteins) are also increasingly popular in human food consumption, reflecting changing consumer preferences and tastes (…) this is a trend we can encourage further”.

The Commission’s report acknowledges the growing consumer demand for plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. Although food represents only represent 7% of the EU plant protein market (with 93% for feed), the report stresses that cultivating plant-proteins for food bring highest profit margins for farmers. As demand for plant-protein increases, it is essential that the Common Agricultural Policy provides an incentivising framework for farmers to respond to this demand and benefit from the arising opportunities.

The members of ENSA already source 2/3 of their whole soybeans directly from EU farmers, a proportion which has been continuously increasing over the past 10 years. To achieve this, a number of ENSA members have actively contributed to the establishment of soy supply chains in Europe, working with farmers to obtain high quality, nutritious and GMO-free soybeans for food use. ENSA members are also innovating, to offer tasty and nutritious plant-based alternatives based on other types of protein, such as peas or oat.

ENSA looks forward to continuing working with the European Commission to deliver and follow-up on the actions identified in the report for the promotion of plant-based protein in Europe.

Vienna – 23 November 2018

SAC Position Paper - Soyfoods help meet Mineral Requirements in Plant-Based Diets

More and more of us are embracing plant-based eating. This trend is in line with official dietary guidelines recommending a shift towards plant-based eating because of the health and environmental benefits.

Removing animal foods from the diet and replacing these with more plant-based foods (either partly or completely) can improve our intake of certain nutrients. For example, potassium and fibre generally increase. However, depending on the degree of animal food restriction, intake of other nutrients, such as calcium, iron and zinc, may decrease.

As well as ensuring that sufficient quantities of these minerals are consumed in a plant-based diet, it’s also important to consider how well they’re absorbed by the body. This is because various dietary factors can either enhance or inhibit mineral absorption. Soya can play a valuable role in meeting mineral needs.

SAC Position Paper - Soyfoods help meet Mineral Requirements in Plant-Based Diets (PDF)

ENSA statement – labelling of plant-based alternatives to meat

ENSA, the European Plant-Based Foods Association, represents the manufacturers of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to dairy and meat products. The market of plant-based alternatives to meat in Europe is growing fast, responding to consumers’ demand for healthy and sustainable protein sources. The global market is expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2020 (MarketsandMarkets), with the European market currently accounting for 39% of global sales (Rabobank).

For consumers looking for non-meat protein sources, it is important to be able to quickly identify suitable products through consumer-friendly names. Consumers consciously choose to buy vegetarian or vegan alternatives to meat and are clearly not misled by terms such as “veggie-burger” or “soy-sausage”. Research from Federation of German Consumer Organisations has shown that only 4% of German consumers have ever bought a plant-based meat alternative by mistake, which is on par with any other purchasing mistake regardless of denomination.

ENSA members have no interest in pretending their products are of animal origin. On the contrary, they claim the vegetable nature of their products, by the choice of denominations that always associate the shape of the product (steak, nugget, sausage, ...) with its vegetable origin (veggie, plant, soy, ...).

Consumers, on the other hand, have an interest in being appropriately informed what plant-based alternatives to meat are available on their supermarket shelves. While we welcome a legal framework that protects consumers from abusive practices, we believe that measures to restrict the use of terms such as “soy steak” or “vegetarian sausage” are disproportionate.

The current legal framework based on the requirement not to mislead consumers is a balanced approach, supported by the European Food & Drink industry at large. The principle of “not misleading consumers” allows a case-by-case assessment, which takes into account particular facts and circumstances, as well as the understanding of the local, average consumer. It is a concept that is well adapted to the complexities of a fast-evolving food market, as it allows at the same time to take into account product innovation and changes in consumer behaviour, and to take action against those practices that can be considered to mislead the average consumer at a given moment in time, in a given environment.

April 30th, 2018.

Individual contributions from SAC members - No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise

Much attention has been given to determining the influence of total protein intake and protein source on gains in lean body mass (LBM) and strength in response to resistance exercise training (RET). Acute studies indicate that whey protein, likely related to its higher leucine content, stimulates muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than proteins such as soy and casein. Less clear is the extent to which the type of protein supplemented impacts strength and LBM in long-term studies (≥6 weeks). Therefore, a meta-analysis was conducted to compare the effect of supplementation with soy protein to animal protein supplementation on strength and LBM in response to RET. Nine studies involving 266 participants suitable for inclusion in the meta-analysis were identified. Five studies compared whey with soy protein, and four studies compared soy protein with other proteins (beef, milk, or dairy protein). Meta-analysis showed that supplementing RET with whey or soy protein resulted in significant increases in strength but found no difference between groups (bench press: χ2 = 0.02, p = .90; squat: χ2 = 0.22, p = .64). There was no significant effect of whey or soy alone (n = 5) on LBM change and no differences between groups (χ2 = 0.00, p = .96). Strength and LBM both increased significantly in the “other protein” and the soy groups (n = 9), but there were no between-group differences (bench: χ2 = 0.02, p = .88; squat: χ2 = 0.78, p = .38; and LBM: χ2 = 0.06, p = .80). The results of this meta-analysis indicate that soy protein supplementation produces similar gains in strength and LBM in response to RET as whey protein.

Individual contributions from SAC members - No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise (PDF)

SAC Position Paper – Soyfoods, glycemic control and diabetes

Diet is thought to play a key role in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and in helping to mitigate the risk of chronic diseases for which people with DM are at an increased risk. For example, a meta-analysis by Lee et al.1 that included 14 observational studies found that the pooled odds ratio (OR) for DM in vegetarians compared with non-vegetarians was 0.726 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.608, 0.867). Furthermore, subgroup analysis indicated that vegans had a much lower risk than vegetarians overall (0.596 vs 0.726). Importantly, the observed inverse association between a vegetarian diet and the risk of DM exists even after adjusting for body mass index (BMI).2,3

SAC Position Paper - Soyfoods, glycemic control and diabetes ENSA SAC - EN(PDF)

SAC Position Paper – Soyfoods and Diabetes

According to a recent meta-analysis of observational studies, a high intake of soy, compared to a low intake, was associated with a 13% lower risk of developing T2D.iii However there are inconsistent findings among these types of studies. Some studies show benefits, while others find no advantages. A few reasons for these discrepancies have been proposed such as differences in quantities of soy consumed among the different population groups (low intake in US cohorts versus Asian cohorts). At this point, while there is some evidence suggesting soyfood intake is protective against T2D, the data is too mixed to reach firm conclusions.

SAC Position Paper - Soyfoods & Diabetes ENSA SAC - EN (PDF)