Alternative Proteins: The Market at the Cusp of Multi-billion Dollar Growth


London, Feb. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The global alternative protein industry is currently going through an unprecedented level of competition and disruption. This change can be attributed to the growing R&D, new product launches, venture investments, and inclination towards a vegan diet. In terms of value, the alternative protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% from 2019 to reach $17.9 billion by 2025. In terms of volume, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% from 2019 to reach 9,787.4 KMT by 2025.


The current world population of 7.6 billion is predicted to reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. This increasing population is marked by multiple unprecedented challenges at the human survival level. One of the most significant challenges faced by the world today is to ensure that the growing population has access to adequate, sustainable, and nutritious food, as consumers seek to ensure healthy lives for as long as possible—particularly as average lifespan continues to rise. There are rapid changes in diets and lifestyles that have occurred with growing industrialization, economic development, millennials, and globalization over the past decade. This is expected to have a significant impact on the health and nutritional status of the population, particularly in developing countries. In 2009, the FAO from the UN projected that food production would have to be increased by 70% to feed the world population by 2050. These factors would accelerate a dietary transition towards higher consumption of meat.

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Animal source foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are essential components of diverse diets and provide high-quality proteins and other essential nutrients that endorse optimal growth and development. According to FAO, global meat production is projected to be increased by 16% from 2015 to 2025. However, the high consumption of livestock products in nearly all developed countries and growing demand for livestock-based foods in large transition economies are creating severe problems of prolonged and persistent environmental and social degradation. These problems are further exacerbated & affected by climate change, biodiversity loss, water stress, land degradation, and water pollution.

To overcome nutritional challenges, high-quality alternatives to protein from livestock have the potential for a significant transformative impact on both people and the planet. This category is seen as a better ideological fit in terms of sustainability and lower consumption of resources. These proteins have significantly lower resource requirements than conventional animal proteins from livestock and will likely lead to reduced costs. Increased availability and consumption of alternative proteins could also improve food safety, reduce the presence of antibiotics in diets, and increase product shelf life, thereby yielding additional benefits for many vulnerable populations. As a part of this shift, particularly amongst millennials, there is a growing trend towards ‘heedful eating,’ a more conscious engagement with food.

These trends result in increasing interest, research, and capitalization around using new or non-traditional animals for protein for human consumption. For instance, through a novel process known as cellular agriculture, animal protein found in milk, meat, and eggs can be manufactured in laboratory settings through cell cultures. The subsequent cultured proteins are identical to those produced through traditional livestock farming and can be substituted as ingredients in existing or new food products. In addition, many plant-based products have also been developed to imitate the sensory properties of animal-source foods closely.


An accelerating pace of transformation is reforming the food industry as consumers are actively trying to incorporate more healthy foods into their diets. As a part of an increasing trend towards healthy eating, there is a renewed interest in plant-based proteins. Plant-based proteins are an excellent alternative to meat and a popular staple primarily in Asian, Latin American, and African cuisine. As with most consumer behaviors, the appeal of plant-based proteins is diverse. Consumers prefer plant-based protein centers as they have positive health effects and superior nutritional value. In addition, there has been has a growing need to avoid meat consumption in modern times.

Beyond the associated health benefits, consumers across the globe believe that plant-based proteins improves their overall health and helps with weight management. Thus, as consumer interest is growing in health, sustainability, and ethics; plant protein intake is on the rise in many regions, particularly promising is the market for meat and dairy alternatives. According to Meticulous Research®, in 2019, the plant-based protein segment accounted for the largest share of the global alternative protein market. This market is valued at an estimated $8.96 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% during the forecast period to reach $14.32 billion by 2025. The large share of Alternative Protein market is mainly attributed to the growing vegetarian and vegan population, consumers’ desire for clean label products, and increasing investment & expansion plans implemented by plant-based product manufacturers.

Among the plant-based protein space, pea and soy are the best known and most widely used protein ingredients from plant protein. The soy ingredient industry has seen dramatic improvements in both process and application technologies in the recent decade. Soy protein accounted for the largest share of the overall plant proteins market in 2019. The large share of the soy protein market is primarily attributed to the factors, such as availability of raw materials, higher consumer acceptance level, presence of a large number of manufacturers & their large scale of production, and lower cost than other types of alternative proteins. On the other hand, the adoption of pea protein is increasing significantly mainly due to its nutritional qualities as well as its allergen, gluten, and lactose-free properties.


In order to fulfill the food demand of the growing population, current food production needs to be doubled in size, which requires to find environment-friendly and sustainable food production methods and sources of high nutrition. Meat production will be unsustainable by 2050, at current and projected rates of consumption, due to high resource intensity and destructive cost. This opens an excellent opportunity for edible insects that have the capability to satisfy the food need with high nutrition and environmental sustainability. Since the last 4-5 years, there has been a growing consumer and investor’s interest in edible insects, which have the great potential of reducing the impact on the current food and agriculture ecosystem.

The global edible insects market is expected to reach $7.96 billion by 2030, supported by a CAGR of 24.4% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2030. Edible crickets are the most widely produced and consumed species of insects due to its high nutritional value, easy farming, easy processing, and growing use in various food recipes & products. Also, increasing demand for cricket-based products, such as protein powder, protein bars, and snacks, among others further supports the growth of the crickets market.


Alternative proteins are trending and have marked serious growth in vegan product development. Across the food value chain, companies are looking to generate growth through innovation and product development in alternative proteins, both within their legacy brands and by creating new product offerings. Following are some of the alternative protein product developments by key players:

  • In April 2019, Nestle launched its plant-based burger in the US under the Sweet Earth brand and in Europe, under the Garden Gourmet brand.
  • In March 2019, Ingredion, Inc. launched its Vitessence Pulse 1803 pea protein isolate that is certified organic for use in nutrition & sports bars, alternative meat & alternative dairy products, powdered & ready-to-drink beverages, and baked foods & baking mixes.
  • As of March 2019, DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, Kas., a Dow DuPont Specialty Products Division business, has added six plant protein nuggets to its Supro and Trupro product range. The new ingredients contain more protein or less sodium than previous offerings, and they come in a range of formats and textures for usage in nutrition bars, snacks, and cereals, according to the company.

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Between 2019 and 2025, most of the demand for alternative proteins is expected to be driven by growing population and urbanization with new consumer aspiration, growing venture investments in alternative protein companies, innovation in food technology, and high nutritional value of edible insects. The North American region is expected to dominate the global alternative proteins market in the next five years, owing to the rising concern over animal products and protein, increasing vegan population, and increased investment in protein alternative products. The presence of a large number of key players with the strong capability of R&D and technology also complements the alternative protein market in this region.

However, the Asia-Pacific alternative protein market is developing and expanding at a significant pace. Among other regional markets, this region is demonstrating signs of strong growth in the near future. China is expected to dominate the Asia-Pacific market through 2025, mainly due to growing food demand, increasing government investment in the food R&D sector, adoption of emerging technologies for product innovation, collaboration between international and domestic food companies, and presence of a large number of players.


The key goal of the alternative proteins is to reduce the environmental or climate impact of producing traditional livestock proteins, offering alternative ways to feed the ever-growing population. Hence, alternative protein products that are made from known ingredients, such as algae and plant proteins have been quickly and easily approved for safety by the FDA; whereas, products that involve heavy processing or a scientific approach need to follow the lengthy approval process in some regions.

The regulatory agencies are being challenged to develop appropriate legislation for the new innovative sources of protein. Standardized regulations that protect the public from health risks and unsubstantiated claims are essential and can stimulate innovation and promote value creation. The clear picture about which government agencies have responsibility for regulations and neutrality from the sway of any interest group is critical to realize the potential of alternative proteins.


Some of the key players operating in the global alternative protein market are AgriProtein (South Africa), Ynsect (France), Enterra Feed Corporation (Canada), Protix (The Netherlands), Proti-Farm Holding NV (The Netherlands), Entomo Farms (Canada), Global Bugs Asia Co., Ltd. (Thailand), Aspire Food Group (US), Tiny Farms (US), EntoCube (Finland), EnviroFlight, LCC. (US), Entofood Sdn Bhd. (Malaysia), Coalo Vally Farms (US), Armstrong Cricket Farm Georgia (US), Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch (US), DIC Corporation (Japan), Cellana Inc. (US), Taiwan Chlorella Manufacturing Company (China), Microalgaetech International Sdn Bhd (Malaysia), BlueBioTech Int. GmbH (Germany), Algatechologies Ltd. (Israel), Pond Technologies Inc. (Canada), EID - Parry (India) Limited (India), Tianjin Norland Biotech Co., Ltd (China), AlgaeCan Biotech Ltd. (Canada), Corbion NV (The Netherlands), Sun Chlorella Corporation (Japan), Parabel, Inc. (US), Plantible Foods, Inc. (US), Archer Daniels Midland Company (US), Cargill, Incorporated (US), Roquette Frères Le Romain (France), Ingredion Inc (US), Kerry Group (Ireland), E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company (US), Now foods (US), Tate & Lyle Plc (UK), AXIOM Foods Inc. (US), Burcon NutraScience Corporation (Canada), BENEO GmbH (Germany), Glanbia Plc (Ireland), Sotexpro (France), Farbest Brands (US), and CHS Inc. (US), Just, Inc. (US), Mosa Meat (The Netherlands), Memphis Meats (US), and MycoTechnology Inc. (US).

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