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Emerging alternative proteins

New research into the changing landscape of protein production in Australia estimates there will be an additional opportunity of $19.9 billion for the sector by 2030, of which $3.1 billion is attributed to alternative protein categories.

The study concluded that there is more than enough room for both animal-based and alternative
proteins in the Australian market. Forecast global demand for protein is strong and will accommodate growth in both sectors.

The report, The Changing Landscape of Protein Production, funded by AgriFutures Australia’s National Rural Issues Program and delivered by the Australian Farm Institute, provides
ground breaking analysis which estimates there will be additional opportunities for the Australian
protein sector by 2030. This includes $8.9 billion for Australian animal proteins, $7 billion for traditional plant-sourced proteins, while alternative protein products could deliver a $3.1 billion opportunity for Australian agriculture.

Alternative proteins are those foods that act as a substitute for traditional animal-sourced
protein. This includes plant-sourced and non-traditional proteins including plant-sourced
meat, dairy and egg substitutes, cultured or cellular meat, insects and algae.

This research provides important analysis not only on the size of the alternative protein trend but
more critically on the implications for Australian producers and investors. It identifies the
aggregate opportunities for Australian agriculture in response to an emerging market for
alternative proteins up to 2030. It provides reliable forecasts to underpin policy, regulatory
changes and advocacy positions.

Segregation and competition between traditional and alternative protein producers are
not as big a threat as expected, the report identifies real opportunities for the sector.

Enabling traditional and alternative protein producers to work in collaboration – such as using the by-product of insect farming as feed for chickens, pigs or fish – can provide a mutual sustainability benefit.

Australian Farm Institute Executive Director, Richard Heath said while there’s been a lot of hype around the potential of so-called ‘fake meat’ as a disruptor to the livestock industry, this research shows the emerging market for alternative proteins should not be seen as a threat to existing
production systems but as a means of diversifying choices for producers, processors and consumers.

“New demand for animal protein from a growing global population will outweigh any additional market share that alternative proteins may gain in the next decade,” Mr Heath said.

AgriFutures Australia’s National Rural Issues Program invested in this research as part of its mandate to lead cross-sectoral research into rural issues of national and global significance.

The report found the production of alternative protein offers opportunity for Australian agriculture, provided that:

  The industry is mindful of the limited natural capital which can be used for protein production in a resource constrained future and makes informed decisions on the most efficient and sustainable use of this capital

  Australian agriculture presents a united front in the aim of producing sufficient protein for the growing population

  The industry monitors the marketing language used by some alternative protein companies to ensure accurate representations of both plant and animal-sourced proteins are presented to consumers.

Overall, the emerging market for alternative proteins should be seen not as a threat to existing
production systems but as a means of diversifying choices for producers, processors and
consumers to fill the growing gap between global protein demand and supply.