The alternative protein market has been a niche category for decades. In 2019-2020 market growth exploded by 45%, largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and overall health concerns. Despite the recent slowdown in growth due to inflation, alternative proteins will persist due to better health positioning, and the same taste and texture as animal-based foods, according to Jacob Golbitz, Managing Director for Agromeris, who spoke at the global soy summit, Soy Connext, in New York.
Consumers turn to alternative proteins for a variety of reasons, including concerns about global warming, animal welfare, personal health and the desire for new experiences. When it comes to investments, plant-based proteins provide more decarbonization leverage than other industries, leading the pack almost three times more than the next leading categories.
Among alternative proteins, plant-based products currently dominate the market, while cellular and precision fermentation products are more advanced and yet to be meaningfully commercialized or mainstreamed. Soy is the ideal plant-based protein for meat alternatives, as it is more functional for emulsification and binding adhesion.
The affordability of soy makes it an attractive option for alternative protein products. Traditional soy foods makers could easily add alternative proteins to their existing product lines to expand into a new category. While alternative proteins may never fully replace animal proteins, they can be blended with them to create cost-effective options for institutional food service.
Growth in the alternative protein market may be slow and steady, but the applications are not limited to what is currently on the market. The door is wide open for new innovations and technologies. As sustainability becomes increasingly important to younger populations, alternative proteins will continue to be a part of the conversation, and U.S. Soy is poised to deliver solutions.
This story was partially funded by U.S. Soy farmers, their checkoff and the soy value chain.