‘The protein transition has gone mainstream’

FAIIR Appetite for Disruption report

‘The protein transition has gone mainstream’

In their most recent report, Appetite for Disruption (July 2020), FAIRR said that 2020 ‘is set to be a watershed in the shift from animal proteins towards plant-based and new protein sources’.

Jeremy Coller, the founder of FAIRR, credits COVID-19 for crystallising and accelerating the trend with supply chains in ‘meltdown’ and violations of workers’ rights exposed.

‘This pandemic is only the latest straw on this camel’s back. Animal agriculture supply chains were already under severe pressure for their contribution to climate change, land degradation, biodiversity loss and antimicrobial resistance.’

Jeremy Coller

Populations are forecast to reach 10 billion people by 2050. That’s a lot of people needing a lot of protein. And the food industry has an incredible challenge on its hands in finding ways to meet the growing demand without exceeding planetary means.

Jeremy and his team believe that the solution lies in alternative protein. And the big food brands are already engaging in this transition, including Starbucks, Unilever and Nestle. Retailers like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Krogers are also on board.

‘The evidence in this report finds that two in five global food giants now have dedicated teams to develop and sell plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, and 47% of the retailers engaged now sell (or plan to sell) plant-based meat alternatives “on the meat aisle”.

This is a systemic shift both in the approach by global food producers to be actively part of the solution, and in the way that we as consumers will shop and eat.’

Jeremy Coller

It’s not just the products that are changing, the way we talk about them is changing too. While terms like ‘plant-based’ or ‘vegan’ were once considered niche and off-limits, they’re now commonly used by food brands.

According to the report, ‘72% of the 25 companies in FAIRR’s engagement have referred to these terms in their quarterly and annual reports to investors and other stakeholders, compared to 64% in 2018/19’.

FAIRR is a global network of investors raising awareness of the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities caused by intensive animal production. And they’ve seen ‘almost double the investment of last year in just over six months of 2020, and the [alternative protein] market is expected to grow to $17.9 billion by 2025’.

FAIIR Appetite for Disruption report

Advances in food technology – particularly when it comes to cell-based meat and seafood – are helping drive innovation in the sector. We were pleased to see California’s BlueNalu get a mention in the report – you can view our three-part series on CEO Lou Cooperhouse and BlueNalu’s alternatives to seafood here, here and here.

With great upheaval comes great opportunity, and that’s certainly the case in the alternative protein market. FAIRR’s recommendation to those wanting to make their mark here: ‘Affordability, taste and nutrition are key factors for long-term success in alternative proteins’.

You can learn more about the report and its findings over at FAIRR.