What is molasses?
Molasses is a thick sweet syrup formed during the sugar production.
Molasses contains vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. In the EU, molasses is mainly used in the bread, beer, and wine or citric acid production and in animal feed. Smaller amounts of molasses are used in confectionary, for example, to make well-known Belgian cookies called speculoos.
Why are we concerned?
The European Commission is reviewing Annex IX of the Renewable Energy Directive. Annex IX includes waste and residue feedstocks that may be used for sustainable biofuels. But molasses is a food and feed material, unlike most of the feedstock in Annex IX. Thus, industry believes molasses does not qualify for addition to the annex.
It is also a scarce material. The EU imports over 1.6 million tons of molasses each year. Promoting its use for sustainable biofuels will mean that less or no molasses at all will be available for human and animal nutrition.
Read more about molasses and biofuels here
What could be
If molasses were added to Annex IX, molasses will be diverted from food and feed to biofuels.
This outcome would run against the ‘food first’ principle and circular economy objectives. The overall competitiveness of the European yeast and fermentation industry and their value-chains will suffer: there is a risk of a surge in imports of yeast and antioxidants from third countries, such as China.
What is the solution?
We firmly believe that no feedstock suitable for the use in food and feed should be favoured for the use in biofuels over human and animal nutrition. That’s why we ask policymakers to not include molasses in Annex IX. Molasses is a food and feed product that has nothing in common with other feedstock listed in Annex IX, such as used cooking oils.
At the same time, we fully support the development of truly sustainable advanced biofuels made from waste residues with no significant competing uses, and provided that the waste hierarchy has been respected.