A report on the Australian Alternative Protein Industry

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Pre-packaged plant-based meat and other alternative protein products in the fridge section of a supermarket

This project mapped out the Australian Alternative Protein (AP) terrain, focusing on companies, products, claims and broader drivers shaping the development of the sector.

Key findings

  • The AP market is a small but growing sector in the Australian food manufacturing sector.
  • Most companies use food processing technologies to transform plant protein ingredients such as wheat, soy, pea, rice, konjac & mushroom into products that mainly imitate beef and chicken. Most products are mince-based such as patties and  sausages. A smaller number imitate slices of meat or in one case whole prawns.
  • Companies’ claims about AP products focus on their (claimed) benefits for the environment. nutrition, animal welfare and food security. They also reassure consumers that they taste like meat. A small number discuss consumer concerns about processing. Little evidence is provided.
  • Support comes from foreign and domestic investment in AP companies as well as advocacy and research from not-for-profit Food Frontier. Food Frontier promote economic opportunities for APs via export, employment, and partnerships with conventional agriculture.
  • The most vocal critics of APs are farmer and rancher associations., who challenge the use of meat, milk or other terms on product labels. The response of meat industry associations focuses on shaping the narrative about meat sustainability issues more generally.

What's next?

Our second project will build on these findings and focus more specifically on health and nutrition claims (and counter claims) made about APs by a range of stakeholders including:

  • AP companies
  • governments
  • health professionals
  • other food and agriculture companies.

We will analyse how these debates influence the drivers and barriers of the adoption of APs.

This report was prepared for the Future Food Hallmark Research Initiative in June 2020. It forms a summary of the project 1 findings as part of the research theme Drivers of demand for alternative proteins

Authors: J. Lacy-Nichols, G. Scrinis, R. Moodie