In 2015, our companies produced 4.9 million tonnes of high-protein, GMO-free animal feed co-product - enough to feed 17% of Europe’s dairy herd. This ensures that ethanol production supports food production and increases food security.
Responsible land use for ethanol production does not impact the amount of food available for human consumption and has a minimal impact on global land conversion.
The overwhelming majority of agricultural crops used to produce ethanol are low-grade and are not suitable for direct human consumption. For every tonne of cereals used by our industry as much animal feed is produced as ethanol. In 2015, our companies produced 5.9 million tonnes of co-products, of which 4.9 million tonnes was high protein, GMO-free animal feed. This animal feed was enough protein to feed more than 3.9 million dairy cows, 17% of the EU dairy herd.
It also displaced nearly 10% of Europe’s soybean and soybean meal imports by volume. Reducing imports of animal feed improves Europe’s environmental footprint and helps reduce land conversion and GHG emissions resulting from agricultural land use outside of Europe. Reducing animal feed imports is also strategically important, as Europe is 70% dependent on feed imports to meet its ever-growing livestock demand.
Historically, ethanol production in Europe uses a very small amount of cereals, and in 2015 only 2%, or 10.3 million tonnes, of EU cereals supply were used to produce ethanol– not enough to reduce cereals supply to global food markets or have any significant effect on food price increases. In fact, the UNFAO report that 2592 million tonnes of cereals were produced in 2016 - this means that last year ethanol production in Europe used a negligible 0.4% of total global cereals production.
2015 was a good year for European cereals production, increasing by 26.5 million tonnes from 2013 - an increase that is more than twice the size of the amount of cereals that were used for ethanol production in 2015. So in 2015, the amount of cereals used to produce ethanol in Europe was more than offset by cereals production increases between 2013-2015, meaning there was no competition between ethanol and food production.
The European Commission’s Cereals Balance clearly shows that over the last decade, the demand for cereals for ethanol production has not taken away from food markets. A 2014 UN FAO report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World, confirms that even after accounting for the cereals used for ethanol, more grain is available for feed and food use today than at any time in history. As a result, global hunger has fallen 21% since 1992.
For more information about the benefits of ethanol, please click here.