Plant-based meat substitutes and other alternative proteins are gaining traction in the food market, according to a new study. Two-thirds said they had already tried alternative proteins in an international consumer survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in seven countries, according to BCG and Blue Horizon, an investment firm involved in the study. They considered meat substitutes healthier than animal proteins, more than three-quarters said. Price, however, plays a significant role: soy products and other plant-based protein sources may not be more expensive than meat.
According to BCG, the average accepted price range is between 50 and 90 percent of animal originals. In the USA, China, Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, France and Spain, 3700 consumers were surveyed. 515 people participated in Germany.
Farm animal agriculture is estimated to cause about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the study says. By 2035, alternative proteins could account for 11 percent of the protein consumed by the world’s population, the authors estimate, as their consumption will increase rapidly. Other surveys assume even higher potentials. According to conservative calculations, it would be possible to reduce CO2 emissions from agriculture by almost one gigaton. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global CO2 emissions in 2021 were 36.3 gigatons.
„Awareness of alternative proteins has increased during the pandemic, along with increased availability and ever-improving quality of products. We continue to see great potential for the market,“ said Benjamin Morach, co-author of the BCG study.
The most important factor for the increased acceptance among is health: 76 percent of respondents buy substitute products because they consider them healthier than animal proteins. Almost 15 percent would even use alternative proteins almost completely or exclusively, provided the products were healthier and tasted better. Climate protection plays a very important role: more than 30 percent of respondents see environmental protection as the most important reason for switching to alternative proteins. This is also the case in my case. However, the respondents do not want to pay more.
„The products consumers see on the shelves today will soon be followed by a wave of cleaner, healthier and tastier alternative proteins as technology enables more and more innovation. We are seeing the rapid development of these technologies both in our own portfolio and in the broader food tech industry,“ said Björn Witte, CEO of Blue Horizon. He adds that this is leading to a better product range overall. This is also the view of the engineering sector: „In order to sustainably feed the growing world population while protecting the environment, it is important to drive the growth of alternative proteins,“ says Christian Traumann, Managing Director at MULTIVAC.
Important news for investors and innovators: switching to alternative proteins is the most capital-efficient and effective solution to address the climate crisis, because alternative proteins save the most emissions per US dollar invested. This makes them at least twice as effective as investments in decarbonizing cement, iron, steel, chemicals, or the transportation sector. That’s attracting more and more financiers. Capital invested in alternative proteins has risen from $1 billion in 2019 to $5 billion in 2021 – an annual growth rate of 124 percent. Investments here are increasingly global and no longer limited to venture capital. Witte believes this is the most capital-efficient way to avoid issuance and achieve a positive return.
„If we achieve 11 percent market penetration by 2035, we could save more carbon emissions than decarbonizing 95 percent of the aviation sector. The positive impact is absolutely huge, and the long-term drivers have never been stronger.“
Sensible and effective regulation is essential to ensure that the rapid innovation and growth of the alternative protein market delivers safe, healthy and transparent food to customers, he said. Around the globe, approval of products based on ferments and animal cells has accelerated recently. Israel led the way in 2015 when it announced that its food safety regulatory framework would also apply to alternative proteins. So here lie major challenges for retailers, the consumer goods industry, packaging manufacturers and mechanical engineering.
We discussed this in a panel of experts. Participants: Christian Traumann, Managing Director Multivac; Harald Suchanka, CEO Handtmann Filling & Portioning; Bernd Esser, Member of the Board BALPro + CEO Berief Food; Friedrich Büse, Founder & Partner Endori; Angela Wadenpohl, Reset Yourself.
Multistream broadcast in English version: