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Animal Welfare, Sustainability, and Health Concerns—amidst a Global Pandemic—Fuel Investment and Innovation Growth
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Meat alternatives or meat analogs are defined as products obtained through alternative protein ingredients such as plant protein or microbial protein; they can mimic the taste, texture, and cooking qualities of animal-derived meat products. The growing number of flexitarians will continue to be a key driver of global meat analog industry growth. Millennials will also drive the shift to healthy and sustainable diets. Other factors expected to fuel adoption include the rising environmental and health concerns among consumers. As consumers gain awareness of the environmental impact of animal-derived food products, demand for sustainable alternative protein sources will rise. The use of sustainable production technologies (fermentation techniques to produce single-cell proteins (SCPs) such as mycoprotein, which can be used to produce meat alternatives) is also gaining momentum. This Frost & Sullivan research service assesses the opportunity across the global meat analogs protein ingredients market from 2017 to 2026. Among the different plant protein ingredients, soy protein accounted for the highest share in 2020. However, rising demand for clean-label, non-GMO, non-allergenic protein ingredients will drive demand for soy and wheat protein alternatives such as pea protein. Chickpea and fava beans are also seeing increased uptake in the meat analogs space. As sustainability becomes an important determinant for new-generation consumers, opportunities for microbial or cell-cultured proteins will expand. Fungal and algae are the key types of microbial proteins being explored. Among the fungal proteins, mycoprotein is expected to witness strong growth over the forecast period, with some of the major companies projected to offer the ingredient on a much larger scale over the next 2-5 years. Microalgae whole biomass protein is another alternative that holds significant growth opportunity, provided companies can overcome the color and the flavor challenges associated with its use in meat analogs. Spirulina and chlorella are the key microalgae species being used; however, the industry is also exploring other micro and macroalgae species for application in meat and seafood analogs. Geographically, North America and Europe accounted for a combined high share (they drove the bulk of the ingredient demand). However, Asia-Pacific is expected to become the hotspot of the plant-based meat revolution over the next 5-10 years. China, Singapore, Southeast Asian countries, and Australia and New Zealand will drive most of the ingredient demand. Latin America and the Middle East are also expected to witness strong penetration of plant-based meat analogs during the forecast period, fuelling protein ingredient growth in these regions. In terms of competitive environment, the plant protein ingredient category is dominated by global and regional manufacturers (Chinese companies hold a significant share in the soy protein ingredient space). Value chain consolidation is a prevalent trend as companies are looking to move up the supply chain through organic and inorganic growth strategies. Start-ups also want to offer microbial protein for meat analog applications; however, only a few well-established brands exist, including Quorn Foods, Corbion, and Duplaco. Partnerships between microbial protein manufacturers and product formulators such as Nestle and Unilever are testament to the high growth opportunity in this space.Author: Smriti Sharma
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