Has Meat Met its Match? The Future of Plant-Based Protein

Protein derived from animal sources is set to hit 64% of total added protein purchased globally by 2020. However, this increase in demand is putting enormous pressure on natural resources.

As people become more aware of sustainability and health concerns, plant-based protein is growing in terms of options available and ways it can be incorporated into consumer diets.

Do we need more protein?

Most developed countries are already consuming above the recommended protein intake. Countries like the UK, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Spain are eating almost twice the recommended amount of protein a day. As incomes in emerging markets start to rise, demand for protein is expected to surge, with demand for meat and eggs set to surge by 74% and 500% respectively. The shift is less about a lack of protein but more about where their protein sources are coming from.

With this forecasted increase in demand, developing new sources of protein for human and animal consumption is major sustainability challenge with the over-reliance on meat consumption putting immense pressure on land for agriculture.

Consumers shifting to a more plant-based diet

There is a shift in consumption to plant-based food and beverages among consumers as they are often perceived as more natural, sustainable and healthy. Some consumers, suspicious of antibiotics and hormones, are either reducing or stopping meat consumption altogether.

Consumers also care about the issues surrounding sustainability, specifically concerning red meat consumption and the impact on health and environment. This can be seen in campaigns around ‘meat-free Mondays’ becoming more popular and ‘flexitarian’ lifestyles where consumers are actively consuming less meat in their diet.

Major food companies are getting on board

Plant-based alternatives are no longer a niche product and are starting to become mainstream with major companies investing in this trend.

For example, Tyson Food bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, investing an undisclosed amount for the manufacturer of “Beyond Burger”, a meat-free alternative made from soya and peas.

And in one of the biggest deals to date in the natural and organic food industry, Danone bought Whitewave for USD10billion, a plant-based food company selling almond milk and organic salad.

Australia leads the way in plant-based alternatives

When looking globally, Australia is currently leading the way in terms of market readiness and attractiveness when it comes to plant-based alternatives, with consumers in Australia showing the highest demand for these products.

For plant-based milk alternatives, Australia is one of the most attractive markets, with sales of almond milk seeing strong growth. For the dairy-free ice cream category, Australia was the number 1 ranked country in terms of market attractiveness in 2016.

However, this shift is not exclusive to the Australian market, with countries such as China, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and the US also seeing consumers shifting to a more plant-based diet.

As consumer preferences continue to shift, substituting meat in their diet, plant-based options are becoming more widely available and more sophisticated in the ways that it can be incorporated in consumer diets and daily lives. To learn more about the projected growth in the plant-based industry and how to identify future trends in this space, listen to our on-demand webinar.