Plant-Based and Cultured Meat: New IDTechEx Report on Technologies, Markets And Forecasts in Novel Meat Replacements
IDTechEx Technology Analyst Dr Michael Dent has recently published a new report titled “Plant-based and cultured meat 2020-2030: technologies, markets and forecasts in novel meat replacements”, focusing on the future of novel meat alternatives.
The meat industry is unsustainable
Meat is a huge business globally, worth over $2 trillion, with global meat consumption doubling over the last 50 years. In 2017, the US alone produced approximately 100 billion lbs of meat, with production growing at a rate of 2-3% per year. In 2016, the US meat and poultry industry accounted for $1.02 trillion in total economic output, representing 5.6% of US GDP. The industry employs 5.4 million people who earn $257 billion in wages.
However, the industry in its current form is not sustainable. Animal livestock uses a disproportionally large amount of land. Of the 51 million km2 of agricultural land worldwide, 77% is used for livestock and feeding livestock. Despite this, only 17% of global caloric consumption comes from animals, with plant-based foods supplying 83% of global caloric intake, and only 33% of global protein intake comes from meat and dairy. Available agricultural land is dwindling, yet the global population is still rising and is expected to reach 10 billion by the year 2050. Feeding this many people will require an increase in global food production of 70%.
Animal agriculture is also damaging to the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water stress and environmental pollution. The world simply cannot afford to carry on at this rate of meat consumption.
Despite this, the world is very unlikely to become vegetarian. Instead there is a large opportunity for any company that can create a realistic substitute for meat products. Two particularly promising industries have grown at a rapid pace over the past few years: plant-based and cultured meat.
Plant-based meat analogues: substance behind the hype?
Plant-based foods are potentially far more sustainable than meat, requiring less land, less water and generating fewer emissions. In recent years, plant-based meat substitutes, i.e. products made from plants that are designed to taste exactly like meat and be marketed to meat-eating consumers, have generated a lot of hype. Could plant-based meat eventually replace conventional meat as part of a sustainable future?
Despite global meat consumption increasing over the previous decades, there is a growing market for vegetarian and vegan substitutes. This trend can be explained by a growing media focus on the ethical, environmental and health issues associated with eating meat, as well uptake by the 95% of consumers who are not vegetarian or vegan. Growing consumer demand has been met with significant investment from major food and beverage companies, as well as investment bodies. Impossible Foods has received over $750 million in funding and in the first three months since going public, Beyond Meat experienced a 500% growth in its share price – the company is now valued at nearly $9 billion. Major food companies such as Tyson and Kroger are getting on board, releasing their own plant-based products.
But does the reality match the hype? The “healthy” label could be problematic for plant-based meat. Products like the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger are not necessarily healthier than their meat counterparts, containing high levels of fat and salt, and there are consumer concerns about the levels of processing that go into plant-based meat products. The price of plant-based meat is also an elephant in the room. Plant-based meats are often much more expensive than their animal-based counterparts and will struggle to become more than a premium product until they can reach price parity than meat. This is easier said than done, however, with major technical and supply chain challenges to overcome.
This report provides an overview of the technology behind plant-based and a grounded assessment of the market, based on technical and consumer drivers and restraints, providing a forecast of the industry from 2020 to 2030.
Cultured meat: will it ever be a reality?
Plant-based meats often struggle to replicate the taste and texture of meat. For all the environmental and ethical benefits, to many consumers it’s just not meat. A potential answer is the use of "cultured meat", “cell-based meat” or “clean meat”, meat produced from in vitro cultivation of animal cells, rather than by slaughtering animals. This would theoretically enable production of “meat” products totally identical to those obtained through animal slaughter, but grown in a lab.
Since the world’s first cultured burger was produced in 2013, the industry has grown at a rapid pace, with start-ups around the globe competing to be the first company to commercialise a cultured meat product. However, the industry is still in its infancy, facing major technological hurdles. Despite bullish claims from industry start-ups, it might be decades until cultured meat products are widely available in stores and restaurants.
This report provides an in-depth guide to the way that cultured meat is produced, discussing the science, technology costs and the challenges of scale up. Combining this with an analysis of the consumer and regulatory environment, the report forecasts the growth of the industry over the next decade, starting with the likely release dates of the first products.
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