Plant-based products and meat alternatives have been hot commodities for consumers for some years now. Both restaurants and consumer packaged goods sellers have ramped up their sourcing and prediction to meet the demand, which is born out of numerous factors such as the quest for health and reduced environmental impact, the price of meat, and so forth.
Indeed, a new report from the Good Food Institute (GFI) has found that if plant-based meat alternatives continue to expand at their current rate, they will represent six per cent of total meat consumption by 2030.
But there is an ominous flip side to the development of the market.
The report warns that will mean that manufacturers will need to produce 25 million metric tons of the products per year to meet that demand. That, in turn, would require at least 800 extrusion factories producing at least 30,000 metric tons of extruded protein product per year around the world. That would represent a total investment of approximately C$34 billion.
The analysis looks at all of the plant-based meat products available today in the context of what would be needed if the same products in the market today kept growing at the current rate. According to the analysis, nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of products are wheat and soy-based, 16 per cent are pea-based, and 14 per cent are soy-based.
Some of the particulars around what will be needed are eyebrow-raising.
For example, to meet the hypothetical 2030 demand, 16 per cent of the global supply of coconut oil will be needed, one-third (34 per cent) of the total pea production, and 10 times the projected global supply of enriched pea protein. In addition, while two per cent of total soy production would be needed, so would three times the projected global supply of soy protein concentrate.
With an eight-year timeframe, the authoritative report provides plant-based producers and manufacturers with something of a roadmap for the next decade. Certainly, it illustrates the magnitude of what needs to be done.