The food industry is currently brimming with trends that seem like too-good-to-be-true phrases laced with an oxymoron such as ‘healthy fats’ or ‘healthy carbs.’ Plant-based meat is one such oxymoron that has built a considerable consumer base in its nascency. People, especially millennials, are treading lightly along the emerging diet fads, trying out new diets that promise to take them closer to their individual health goals. Often, these diets prescribe one ingredient’s abundance and another’s non-existence, for instance, a ‘high-protein and low-carb’ diet. These diets turned out to be the key to a whole new industry segment that was focused on “catering” to their specific requirements. When there was a rise in the number of people opting for veganism and vegetarianism, restaurant chains saw this as an opportunity to offer them the food group they intended to abandon altogether by substituting it with acceptable alternatives, retaining the same group of consumers and possibly attracting some more.
Reports and Data predicts that the Global Protein Ingredients Market was calculated to be worth USD 29.40 Billion in 2018 and is estimated to grow to a valuation of USD 52.68 Billion by the year 2026, delivering a CAGR of 7.6% through the years. Leading companies in the Protein Ingredients sector include ADM, AMCO, Cargill, DuPont, Gelita, Friesland, Fonterra, Kewpie Corporation, Omega Protein Corporation, and Roquette. Plant-based protein is a significant segment of the protein ingredients market and extremely in trend. With restaurants having a designated place in their menus for meat substitutes to companies introducing entire product ranges with plant-based meat, the plant-based protein sector has been very well-received in the market. The Global Meat Substitutes Market was valued at USD 4,471.7 Million in 2018 and is expected to deliver a CAGR of 7.0% to reach the market value of USD 7,694 Million by 2026, whereas the Global Plant-based Meat Market, the market size of which was USD 10.10 Billion in 2018, is estimated to garner market value of USD 30.92 Billion by the year 2026, rising at a considerable CAGR of 14.8%. Plant-based meats are typically produced using gluten or soy. Gluten or soy-based plant meats offer the same amount of protein to consumers as is available in animal meat. These products are believed to be safer and healthier than animal meat, as animal meat can consist of many other ingredients than protein. It also poses the risk of cancer and an increase in cholesterol, along with the threat of other cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, consuming animal meat regularly has been linked to an inability to maintain healthy body weight.
Plant-based meat substitutes, on the other hand, are a boon for many people, especially those who have adopted veganism but are struggling with the drastic absence of meat in their diets. By using advanced food technology, manufacturers have made plant-based meat taste exactly like, or some may argue, even better than actual meat. A lot of detailing goes into these products; for instance, Impossible Foods meat alternatives have the same texture and taste of real meat. The meatless revolution originally stemmed from alarming concerns relating to the detrimental impact of meat on people’s health and the environment. This gave the producers of meat alternatives an opportunity to penetrate the market as a more easy-on-the-environment and a healthy substitute for meat. However, such attempts by companies to achieve the accurate flavor and feel of regular meat indicates that these products appeal to meat-eaters more than they do to people who have quit eating meat.
Nonetheless, there are speculations that the carbon footprint of plant-based meat production might also be massive, even though marginally lower than that of regular meat production. This speculation is based on the fact that even plant-based meat production requires equipment and other resources that have an impact on the environment. Not just the environment, many researchers have also tried to gauge the benefits or harms of consuming plant-based meats. Some experts also opine that products like meat substitutes for burgers do not necessarily make the entire meal healthier, as the bun and toppings still contain loads of calories. There is a need for more targeted research to confirm the impact of meat substitutes on human health and the environment.
Another hot-button issue in the market is ‘halal’ proteins. Many companies and establishments are aiming for halal certification for their products. Halal certification attests to the preparation of meat in a precise manner as dictated by Islamic law. Halal-based proteins are not just limited to their usage in fresh meat preparation, but they are also available in whey protein powders, which are popular nutritional supplements. A recent controversy before the opening of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games revolving around the lack of halal options for athletes drew focus on the lack of proper guidelines governing this sub-sector. At the event, the availability of halal meat was crucial considering that a sizable portion of the population in Southeast Asia is Muslims, who are the dominant consumer base for halal-certified food products.
The need for plant-based protein substitutes arose with the prevalence of diets that directed the removal of all meat-based food products. People adopting vegan and vegetarian diets will have the option of getting foods that taste the same as their favorite meat-based food dish but without violating their diet plans. The global protein ingredients market also came into the limelight due to the emerging trend of diets that instruct a high protein intake. Los Angeles-based company Koia recently introduced its three soon-to-be-launched beverage ranges viz., Koia Core, Koia Keto, and Koia Coffee. Its coffee-based beverages are prepared using plant-based protein, MCT oil, and coconut milk. Producers engaged in the food industry are making efforts to integrate alternative proteins into their preparation in an attempt to neutralize the carbon emissions of the food and beverage sector, while the consumer base is attracted to the concept of a healthy diet that has the least ecological impact. With all these recent developments, the Protein Ingredients market has witnessed a concomitant expansion in the past couple of years, now accounting for a significant portion of the global meat industry.