Alternative meat popularity has greatly increased over the last few years, with alternative diets such as vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian increasing interest in this market sector. The global alternative meat market value estimate of $3.8 billion in 2018 is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.32 percent toward 2023 reaching 6 billion according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
By 2050, the National Geographic has stated the global population will grow by more than two billion people, with research published in the journal Science by scientists Poore &Nemecek stating that 60 percent of agriculture greenhouse gas emissions are due to traditional meat consumption. This highlights the importance of sustainable and environmental food manufacturing with the adoption of new eating habits like alternative meats becoming more important to consumers.
Alternative meat comprises primarily of plant-based alternatives, but lab-grown meat methods are currently in the pipeline. It is unlikely in the short term that lab-based meats will be as popular as plant-based alternatives due to consumer sentiment.
This is supported by GlobalData’s 2017 Q4 Consumer Survey, which confirms that 38% of global respondents would never eat vegan meat that is ‘produced in a lab’.
Matthew Coates, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “There is lack of consumer trust towards lab-grown meat to overcome and companies will need to be more transparent about their production methods and offer products at affordable prices to gain consumer trial and acceptance.’’
Aleph Farms and Memphis Meats are the important lab-grown meat companies that use isolated animal cells and regenerative tissue engineering to create ‘slaughter-free’ meat.
These methods are seen to have reduced negative socio-economic problems that are associated with traditional meat production. Furthermore, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded that lab-meat does not require the same laws as raised-meat allowing more freedom in manufacturing and distribution.
Coates adds: “The other alternative is plant-based meats, pioneered by the two key plant-based meat producers, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both have seen success across Europe and the US with the Beyond Burger available throughout Tesco stores and in TGI Fridays, and the Impossible Whopper available across Burger King chains throughout the US with a launch in the UK at the end of 2019’’.
These alternative burgers use a combination of plant proteins, with the Impossible Burger using heme, a molecule found in animal muscle tissue and in plants, to replicate ‘bleeding’. Beyond Meat uses beetroot to produce a similar effect.
Coates concludes: “Plant-based meat is still taking the lead with consumers as there are fewer ethical concerns and will likely continue to see growth and innovation, but new entries in the market will need to find their own niche to avoid over-saturation, much like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have done.”