Foodies, pay attention! Brace yourself for some big ‘protein’ changes globally. Did you know that around half of Italian consumers are cutting down their red meat intake, while about 26% have opted for vegetarian diets? Or that Coop and ICA, Sweden’s largest supermarket retailers, launched campaigns about the environmental impact of eating meat? Given the global concerns around protein intake and its impact on the environment, alternative proteins can be a big global disruptor, which can completely revamp your food choices!
But first, know yourself and examine your food preferences. For instance, are you a health-conscious and fitness-oriented individual? Those of you who regularly work out the gym are already aware of the importance of muscle health, right?
Further, do you examine the contents of the food that you buy from the supermarket and dig into the label jargon before you opt to buy something off the shelf? Then, brace yourself for what is now being referred to as the possibility of a global dietary shift, a possible disruptor, that can completely change consumer behaviour across the world.
According to Working Paper No 270 on Adaptation and Development Pathways for Different Types of Farmers, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAF), two factors are cited to support the development of alternative protein sources.
The first factor is quite simple – there is an increased interest in the West to switch to vegetarian diets, according to Statista 2018 (refer to Askew 2017; Kenward 2017; Cornish 2018; Poore and Nemecek 2018). The second factor is linked to a sharp rise in the number of non-traditional protein products that are now available to consumers.
This means that more and more consumers want to opt-out of proteins such as meat and fish and choose something that is non-traditional protein.
So, what has led Westerners to consider switching to vegetarian diets?
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Globally, European food makers are credited with leading the way forward in leading innovation to substitute traditional protein-based foods. Germany leads the meat substitution innovations, followed by France, Sweden, Italy and UK.
In UK, about 25% of consumers have flagged concerns about the environment, a cause which urged them to revisit their food choices.
According to Mintel analyst, Germany’s share of innovation has declined in 2017, but Sweden has the highest NPR rates in the alternative proteins space and the Netherlands is already emerging as one of the most attractive markets for plant-based products.
In North America, the trend of alternative proteins offers huge business opportunities for companies. Nestlé and Tyson have gone ahead with major acquisitions in the category of non-meat protein products. Maple Leaf Foods, which is Canada’s largest food processor, has bought two plant-based and one insect-based protein companies and is now branding itself to be on a trajectory to become the most sustainable protein company! So, how do they plan to achieve a goal like this? Quite simple. They aim to drastically reduce the amount of conventional livestock in their portfolio!
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The flip side is that while the emerging interest in alternative proteins is clinching the interest of companies, whether consumers decide to chuck their favourite meat-based proteins or not is another story altogether. And that is what will ultimately determine the success of alternative proteins.
So, don’t skip the grilled steak or fish fillet on your plate yet!