Demand for alternative protein-based foods is surging in Asia-Pacific as the new coronavirus is driving some consumers, particularly in China, to rethink their daily diets.
Based on type, the alternative protein market is segmented into emerging alternative protein, adolescent alternative protein, and matured alternative protein; based on applications, the market is segmented into plant-based products, cell-based products, and microbial products. The plant-based protein products were estimated to become the largest part of the overall alternative protein market in 2021.
What are the new trends in the alternative protein segment in 2022? What are the opportunities that brands should seize?
Apart from peas, oat, seed, nuts, and grains, more new alternative protein ingredients are becoming available; ingredients such as volcanic microorganisms, microalgae, insects, and even air. These new ingredients of alternative protein have been proved successful in the lab and are on the way to becoming commercial.
Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd develops microbe-based proteins for meat substitutes and dairy substitutes using a fermentation process. The protein is produced by a fungus, first identified in geothermal springs in Yellowstone National Park.
Finnish food-tech startup, Solar Foods, is testing a technology that uses electricity to produce hydrogen which when combined with carbon dioxide, water, vitamins, and minerals can create microbial biomass that can be used as edible protein.
Entering 2022, more plant-based consumer products are becoming available, such as whole-cut steak, seafood, chicken, and eggs. In the first half of 2021, the global investment in alternative seafood hit a record high of USD 116 million, surpassing the total investment in 2020. Currently, more than 87 companies are engaged in producing alternative seafood by using microorganisms and animal cells.
Related technologies also drive the booming development of the alternative protein market. The precision fermentation process is a game-changer for the alternative protein segment as it provides a real viable solution for the scale production of specific functional ingredients, such as whey, casein, fat, and other essential food elements.
Plant molecular farming is yet another convenient and cost-effective way to produce high-value recombinant proteins that can be used in the production of a range of health products. Machine Learning and Big Data also support the emergence of new production processes to create plant-based products that have similar taste and texture to animal-based foods.
From the perspective of sustainability, the alternative protein segment is the right direction for the future. Companies should seize these opportunities to come up with new and unique technologies and products.