When Tyson Foods bought a stake in Beyond Meat a year ago, it signalled that the alternative proteins market had moved from niche to mainstream. Even though Tyson Foods only bought a 5% stake in the start-up, it marked the coming together of two companies competing for the plate seen by many as adversaries.
The onus is now on big meat to tap into alternative protein – be that meat substitutes, insect protein or lab-grown meat – with Rabobank expecting significant growth in the market for the next five years.
“The strong and persistent drivers supporting the current growth of alternative proteins will continue over the next five years, at least,” said Justin Sherrard, global strategist of animal protein at Rabobank.
“This means alternative proteins have the potential to capture a material share of animal protein demand growth in the EU, and also capture more market share in the US and Canada.”
Growth should act as a “wake-up call to the animal protein sector”, which could be left struggling for to keep up with the long-term growth of alternative protein, the bank warned.
If meat companies do not seize the opportunities in the alternative proteins market, these opportunities will turn to threats as other food and agribusiness companies buy into the irresistible market.
Current market share for alternative proteins is, as expected, considerably smaller than the animal protein sector. But it is the growth rates for alternative protein products that are significant.
Growth in alternative protein products could represent one-third of total protein demand in the EU within the next five years, according to Rabobank.