Societal evolutions and innovation, levers for the growth of plant-based protein

by Arnaud REY, Agri-Agro Innovation Consulting Engineer, Economic studies, Crédit Agricole Group

Proteins are, along with carbohydrates and fats, one of the three main families of macronutrients. Proteins can be of animal or vegetable origin and their quality is defined by their ability to meet the needs of proteins and amino acids essential to our body.

For a long time confined to the consumption of protein of animal origin, protein consumption evolves under the combined effect of various factors:

  • The continuous increase in the world population (nearly 10 billion people in 2050),
A societal trend towards a decrease in meat consumption in developed countries (veganism, flexitarism...) combined with a growing concern for environmental issues and animal welfare,
  • Consumers looking for food products with a rich nutrient profile and a positive impact on health,
  • An increase in protein consumption in emerging countries, as a result of the rise in living standards.

The increase in vegetable protein consumption is also supported by innovation through an increasingly developed offer and progress in extraction processes:

  • Increasingly complete ranges of plant-based protein products adapted to consumer tastes,
  • Continuously improved plant-based protein extraction technologies, making it possible to offer innovative products with organoleptic properties similar to those of animal protein,
  • Extraction techniques that provide increasingly concentrated and purified proteins, whether in the form of isolates, concentrates or textured proteins
  • Functional properties adapted to the uses: for example, soya and pea proteins can replace eggs in BVP (Bakery, Viennese pastry, Pastry)

In this context, the vegetable protein market is expected to grow in the coming years and will no longer be aimed solely at people who follow meat-free diets. Some analysts even estimate that vegetable alternatives to meat could capture 10% of the meat market, thus expecting a potential market of $140 billion within 10 years! Without going so far, we estimate that the market growth will exceed 10% annual growth.

Image credits: Veganliftz.