Alternative proteins have been one of the few success stories to rise from the ashes of the pandemic economy. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives surged past $29 billion in 2020 and could climb as high as $162 billion by 2030, assuming nearly 8% of the global protein market.
The market’s already produced media darlings such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Oatly, while newer startups such as BlueNalu edge closer to prime time.
And the alternative protein movement’s grown beyond plant-based products to include those made through cell culture as well as precision fermentation, with a growing variety of product applications and formats coming to the marketplace over the next several years.
“The world needs to find new solutions for feeding our future generations,” BlueNalu President & CEO Lou Cooperhouse explained. “Consumers demand food products that embrace sustainability and other benefits, and the food industry is rapidly developing great-tasting products that meet their desires and expectations while supporting the well-being of people and our planet. In fact, ‘alternative’ proteins could become ‘conventional’ in the not-so-distant future. Consulting firm AT Kearney projects that alternative meats might make up 60% of global meat consumption by 2040, signaling significant industry growth in the next 20 years, and a total transformation of our protein supply chain.”
Consumers clearly love these new products, whether they’re driven by health concerns, the desire for a more diverse diet, or worries about sustainability. And legacy food and beverage manufacturers such as Nestlé – among others – have taken notice, leveraging their scale and resources to stake a claim in the emerging market niche.
“Although plant-based products have seen immense growth over recent years, primarily driven by health and eco-conscious shoppers, the global pandemic has widened the appeal of meat-alterative products further still,” Olivier Chevalier, senior product manager of functional proteins at Beneo told IngredientsFirst. “As more mainstream consumers make changes to their diets to promote their long-term health and reduce their impact on the planet, there has been a recent upsurge in shoppers planning to include more plant-based foods into their diets, as a result of COVID-19.”
And as the technology gets better, analysts expect these products to taste better, cost less, and broaden their scope.
San Diego-based cell-cultured seafood startup BlueNalu just announced a deal with Europe’s largest frozen food company, Nomad Foods, to explore market opportunities for cell-cultured seafood across Europe. With a presence in more than a dozen European markets, Nomad is the world’s largest buyer of sustainable wild-caught fish.
“The importance of sustainability has never been more apparent, and the role of technology in delivering these needs is accelerating,” Nomad Foods Chief Executive Stéfan Descheemaeker told Reuters.
“As the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the climate crisis demonstrates, the decisions we make over the next decade will have a profound impact on life on this planet for generations to come,” Cooperhouse added. “By collaborating with leading international seafood companies like Nomad Foods, we can accelerate our pathway to market and provide healthy, sustainable seafood for humanity while protecting and preserving the precious biodiversity in our ocean.”
Adopting a digital document management system – and mindset – remains critical to accelerating new product development and staying on top of emerging trends such as the rise of alternative proteins, especially in improving operational efficiencies and deliverability. Networked solutions can facilitate better team collaboration, ramp up research and development, streamline supplier and ingredient selection, and automate compliance.
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