BOSTON — IDTechEx has recently released “Plant-Based Meat 2021-2031,” a market research and business intelligence report exploring the technical and industry factors that are shaping the emerging plant-based meat market.
According to the report, sales of plant-based meat have grown sharply in recent years, buoyed by the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting meat supply chains and putting increasing scrutiny on the conventional meat industry. Reflecting this, investments into the plant-based meat industry have also risen rapidly, with the industry raising more than $1.4 billion in 2020 alone. The industry is optimistic that these trends will continue into 2021 and beyond, with plant-based meat looking increasingly set to disrupt the $1 trillion global meat industry.
Plant-based meat is not a new concept, IDTechEx said. Tofu and seitan have been around for millennia and meat alternative brands such as Quorn and Tofurky have been in stores around the world for decades. However, until recently, these products were primarily targeted at vegetarians. The most recent generation of plant-based meat products, such as the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have aimed to change this, targeting the 95% of consumers who eat meat but are looking to cut down consumption for health or environmental reasons. These consumers are less likely to sacrifice product quality, IDTechEx said, and as such, plant-based meat companies have increasingly invested into product research and development to create new plant-based meat products that are almost exact replicas of the real thing.
R&D has been accelerated by advances in production technology, such as the twin-screw extrusion technology pioneered by Gardein in the early 2000s, and companies are increasingly looking to emerging technologies to help develop the next generation of plant-based products. Chilean start-up NotCo is employing artificial intelligence technology to find optimized combinations of ingredients, Israeli company Redefine Meat is using 3D printing technology to create structured plant-based meat products such as steaks and California-based Eat Just used high-throughput screening techniques to find combinations of plant proteins that suit different foods, such as the company’s mung bean-based egg substitute.
Nevertheless, the industry does still face challenges that threaten its goal of disrupting the $1 trillion global meat industry, IDTechEx said. Plant-based meat products generally remain more expensive than their conventional meat counterparts, with cost reduction being a priority for the industry. Further work into optimizing product quality is also necessary, particularly regarding plant-based analogs to structured meat products such as steaks and chicken breasts. Finally, the industry has faced resistance from the conventional meat industry, which has pushed regulators to place restrictions on the labeling of plant-based meat products, such as the recently proposed European Union ban, which threatened to ban producers of vegan dairy analogs from using milk cartons and yogurt pots to package their products, before it was dropped in May 2021.
Despite these challenges, the plant-based meat industry is continuing to grow rapidly and many in the industry are optimistic about the future. The report contains a 10-year region-based market forecast for the future of the plant-based meat industry, predicting that the global plant-based meat market will be worth over $29 billion by 2031.