Plant power: The rise of the protein revolution

Identifying plant protein as a major source of future foods is what we like to call the protein revolution: perhaps because the way in which we produce our protein represents a need for change in our food system and during the current covid crisis, change has become the forefront of most businesses agenda.

According to The Good Food Institute there are 4 main pillars of the future of our food:

🌱 Sustainability

🌱Food safety

🌱Efficiency

🌱Profitability

Its not news that the underlying sustainability, efficiency and security of our food supply chain has been threatened time and time again throughout the current pandemic. Although the EU states that there is a lack of evidence to prove the virus is transmitted through food, the UN has expressed some concern over the connection between extensive livestock farming and the virus, due mainly in part to the increased demand for animal-based foodstuffs which is expected to double by 2050.

Protecting our planet and minimizing damage to its ecosystem has been an important part of our agenda for many years, but since the outbreak of covid19 its more of a talking point than ever. Consumers behaviours are rapidly changing: people are now seeking more sustainable-based solutions to help our environment as well as expressing more demand for “better for you” products that offer some advantage to their health and well-being.

The European Commission has listened and recently pledged 10 billion euros to help further our green transition with the aim of solidifying and advancing the researching of alternative foods.

“This is a major step forward. Alternative proteins, such as plant-based and cultivated meat, play a critical role in Europe’s transition to a more sustainable, healthy and just food system ”, acknowledged Alexander Holst, GFI Europe Policy Manager of the European Commission.

Plant-based; a booming market

In recent months, the whole efficiency of our food system has been buckled by covid. Countries like Singapore have been so devastated that they have pivoted their production strategies due to food shortages. This has created a comfortable gap in the market for new, innovative companies with disruptive solutions. Plant-based startups like Just Egg and Grounded Foods have increased their demand from food producers.

“The alternative proteins industry was already a hot market before covid-19 hit. My prediction is that these terrifying times will propel the sector’s growth even faster, ”says Veronica CEO of Grounded Foods.

Over the last few years cultured meat has become an important space in the alt proteins market. However, unlike plant-based, there are a still a few more barriers to knock down before getting excited about commercialisation: 1. How can startups recreate and reproduce the exact taste and texture of the “real” thing? 2. How can they then market it at a reasonable price since development can be so expensive?

Some cell-based meat producers estimate that the COVID crisis will boost this type of alternative production. What do you think?

Its not just startups that are eager to get their foot in the plant-based door, large companies are also showing interest. Industry pioneer Cargill is focusing on marketing alternative products in the US and China, two countries with huge consumer potential. The brand announced an investment of up to $100 million with foodtech startup Puris back in 2018 and has since benefited from this partnership with the dwindling production of pea protein. They have also invested in the “protein of the future” with fundings in cell-based meat-producing startups like Aleph Farms and Memphis Meats. 

As you can see, investments in alt protein has spiked in recent years with big names aching to be a part of the new protein revolution. And the movement continues, Swiss-based fund Blue Horizon Ventures has just acquired a 35% stake in Spanish startup Cubiq Foods to accelerate the production of its omega-3s and develop new products such as ‘vegan smart fat’. This just goes to show that the alt protein wave isnt only affecting larger countries like the US or Asia but even Europe, and seems like both consumers and investors want to be a part of it, what about you?

In our next webinar with partners Eatable Adventures “Riding the Plant Based Wave: Leading the Food Revolution”, which will take place on Thursday, June 4 at 5:00 p.m., we will be joined by Nir Goldstein, Managing Director at The Good Food Institute Israel and Elizabeth Gutschenritter, Managing Director of Alternative Protein at Cargill who will offer their insights into the world of plant-based and the companies leading this new food revolution. Secure your place and sign up here!

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