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The plant-based protein market is changing what it takes to succeed

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Global demand for plant-based proteins is rising and major, ongoing opportunities await companies that deliver the plant-based alternatives for meat, dairy and seafood consumers want. Brands must outpace rivals with scalable supply chains to support continued growth. ADM can help to meet those needs.

In recent years, the plant-based market has changed from an emerging opportunity to a significant business. The European meat substitute market almost doubled in size between 2014 and 2019, according to Euromonitor. By 2024, the market is forecast to be worth €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion). A similar story is playing out across the Atlantic. The US market for plant-based food grew by 29% from 2017 to 2019.1

Graphic_Plant Based Protein_800x500

This trend is attracting investors. Alternative protein companies raised a record $824 million from investors in 2019.2​ That record did not last long. In just the first quarter of 2020, the industry raised $930 million. Interest is extending beyond plant-based alternatives for meat, egg and dairy. In 2019, a record number of cultivated seafood companies raised early financing rounds.    

This level of activity is underlining two facts. Firstly, intense competition means speed-to-market is critical as companies see that delivering desirable plant-based proteins today could create long-term brand loyalty. Secondly, demand for textured proteins and other ingredients is making it critical for companies to access reliable, scalable supply chains to serve this fast-growing market.  

Graphic Plant Based
quinoa Meatballs_300x600

Ideally placed to serve the sector

ADM is integrated into pea, soy and wheat-textured and functional ingredients that are essential to the manufacture of plant-based products. This gives the firm the supply chain needed to serve the sector as it continues to grow. The ADM portfolio also features a long list of other ingredients used in plant-based proteins.

With teams focused on anticipating global trends and defining emerging taste and flavor profiles, ADM is also positioned to be among the first in the industry to identify new product opportunities.

The technical capabilities of ADM, notably at its culinary center in Berlin, equip it to quickly translate market insights into new products. At the Berlin site, ADM’s team of experts can replicate industrial processes and harness the ingredient portfolio to quickly bring best-in-class products to market.

ADM’s development teams are also using the ingredient portfolio to evaluate the creation of desired textures and the removal of additives that can stop label-conscious consumers from buying products. ADM’s ingredients are based on raw materials from nature, putting it in a strong position to address clean label concerns. 

As the market for vegetarian alternatives and other plant-based proteins has matured, the full value of ADM’s broad portfolio and associated expertise has become clear. Today, brands need to quickly design products with the desired taste and texture, plus clean labels, and establish scalable, mass-market supply chains to support them.

That requires a breadth of capabilities beyond the reach of most companies. ADM is set up to play a central role in the evolution of the plant-based protein sector into an established, multi-billion dollar market. 


1. U.S. Plant-Based Market Overview - New SPINS retail sales data. (2018).

2. Record 824 million invested in alternative protein companies in 2019, 930 million already invested in Q1 2020.  investment-in-alternative-protein-in-2019-and-q1-2020-media-release.

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