Special edition: Meat alternatives

Firm growth for meat substitute products

By Rod Addy and Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Tofu is one of the most popular meat analog variants
Tofu is one of the most popular meat analog variants

Related tags: Meat, Protein

The total market for analogs and meat free products is set to rise by 4.4%, from €2.85bn to €3.54bn, in the next five years, according to exclusive data from market analyst RTS Resource.

Speaking about trends in the wider meat free market, RTS md Steve Rice told FoodNavigator: “The market will continue to be dominated by meat free meals in the next five years, although analogs should experience something of a resurgence due to re-marketing coupled with a degree of investment in innovation.”

According to RTS, the greatest demand for meat free ingredients is in the ready meals sector, where western European sales stood at €1.48bn and were set to grow by 3.5% to €1.76bn by 2016.

The next largest market is burgers and sausages, which RTS predicts will reach €854m by 2016, growth of 3.9%.

Meat analogs

Having had a tough time in the past few years, sales of meat analogs, such as tofu (bean curd) would rise by 4.3%, from €359m to €443m in 2016, said RTS.

‘Other’ meat free products looked set to grow the most, albeit from a small base, by 9.7% from €306m to €486m. “Although this is a catch-all sector of the market comprising products that do not fit neatly into the others, this is where more innovative meat-free products are being developed,” said Rice. “Examples include meat-free snacks and meal accompaniments.”

The modest growth predictions are reflected even more strongly in the claims made by the scientists regarding meat substitutes. They predict strong parallel growth alongside the growth of meat products.

“What we’ve been noticing now for the past few years is that meat production is going up all the time, it’s tripled in the past three decades and it is predicted to double on its present level by 2050,”​ said Fiona Lickorish of Cranfield University.

Environmental perspective

Switching to alternative sources to animal proteins is going to become vital from an environmental perspective, say experts. Dr Eric Davidson from the Woods Hold Research Cente, USA, claims meat consumption needs to fall by 50% per person in order to meet nitrous oxide reduction targets set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The shift away from animal proteins is also necessary for health reasons, according to research. While the British Heart Foundation advises that moderate intakes of lean red meat can play an important part in a healthy balanced diet, over-consumption has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer.

In 2007 the World Cancer Research Fund published a report that directly linked diet to cancer, reporting that red and processed meats pose particular risks.

Emerging proteins

Popular choices for meat replacement products include soy and wheat proteins, in addition to Quorn – a mycoprotein derived from fermentation of the fungus Fusarium venenatum​. However, several emerging proteins also offer opportunities.

According to a recent research report from the Riddet Institute in New Zealand: “An important contribution to future protein nutrition of man and animals will have to come from novel proteins … Likely sources include co-products from the biofuel and vegetable oil industries (currently used in animal feeds, but often inefficiently) and the food ingredients industry, as well as totally new sources of protein, such as from plants, algae and insects.”

Prototype products from some of these exist today, but these are still in their infancy,” ​said the researchers.

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