It is undeniable that protein is an indispensable part of the human diet, but the way we produce it today presents many challenges, both for human consumption and its economic and environmental impact. This briefing develops a unique protein index which ranks 34 markets in terms of their readiness and future appeal for plant-based protein in savoury snacks, milk, ice cream and processed meat. It also assesses recent innovations in plant-based foods to help manufacturers with their R&D efforts.
Within developed markets consumers eat more than the recommended amount of protein. However, the majority of this protein comes from animal-based protein sources. In fact, with the exception of Japan and India, fresh meat and dairy tend to be the main contributors to protein purchases in the world’s top 10 packaged food markets. This puts new strains on water, soil fertility, biodiversity and climate change.
In 2016, Australia ranked first in plant-based savoury snacks, processed meat and ice cream because of the large demand for free-from and organic products, the high share of Millennials, the growing share of vegetarians and vegans, and rapidly rising demand for sports protein and weight management products, two of thee primary use cases for protein.
While Australia ranks first in terms of the current attractiveness for plant-based products, the US and Sweden hold the highest future potential. Sweden has shown by far the biggest improvements in the rankings in a variety of products, on the back of favourable legislation, innovative local brands, rising availability and the affordability of plant-based options.
It is no longer soya and ancient grains which are the main alternatives to meat and dairy. Innovation is already on the way to integrating high-protein pulses such as lupine and chickpeas, algal ingredients including spirulina, and insects into packaged food and beverages.
A number of key markets, including China, France and Australia, are making important legislative changes to curb meat consumption and divert consumers to plant-based diets, which is likely to boost the future demand for plant protein.
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