The alternative protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2022 to 2029 and reach USD 36.61 billion by 2029. The growth of the alternative protein market is driven by changes in the consumers’ purchasing habits and priorities, the increasing number of venture investments, innovation in food technology, and environmental sustainability benefits of alternative protein. Having said that, it is still essential for investors and entrepreneurs alike to understand the certainties, uncertainties, and challenges that this industry faces.
It is certain that the world’s growing population boosted the alternative protein industry. The traditional husbandry industry cannot meet the world population’s need for protein due to the limited land and the deteriorating climate. The alternative protein industry needs less land and natural resources and produces fewer carbon emissions. Moreover, the alternative protein is superior to the traditional food products in terms of food safety, balanced nutrition, and prices.
The protein industry is also more mature in aspects such as supply chain, production, packaging, logistic, sales channel, and marketing. This has laid a solid foundation for the alternative protein industry. Besides, alternative protein products such as plant-based meat and plant-based milk are becoming a part of people’s daily lives.
When it comes to China, the country accommodates 9% of the world’s arable land and 6% of the world’s freshwater but has one-fifth of the world population. Under the context of securing enough food and carbon neutrality, the Chinese government is encouraging the development of alternative protein products.
There are also some uncertainties that present both challenges and opportunities.
Government policies bring uncertainties that make it hard for companies to chart comprehensive and long-term, strategic plans. Expectations based on experimental data are too optimistic and have not been proven. Technical issues still exist. For instance, better solutions are needed to remove metabolites in bioreactors; scale production has not been achieved; the cost of cell culture medium is still high; the microorganisms that can be used to produce protein are not many; the raw material for culture solution is inadequate; more R&D is needed in the continuous flow culture production system. Food neophobia makes people suspicious of new food, including alternative proteins, which calls for more market education, a long and hard process.
Deep research around the certainties and uncertainties in the alternative protein industry is needed to give more guidance to investors, entrepreneurs, and established brands that are chasing this valuable opportunity.