‘While meat consumption continues to rise, consumer interest in non-animal-based protein food options is increasing globally,’ explains Ava Duering, competitiveness analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. ‘Alternative protein has moved from niche to mainstream with new products regularly appearing on the market.’
Alternative protein includes protein derived from non-animal sources such as plants, insects, microbial protein – algae, fungi, bacteria – and cellular agriculture.
‘Consumers are adopting the flexitarian approach to protein consumption,’ she adds. ‘Flexitarians consume both traditional meat and plant-based alternatives.’
She says that rising demand for alternative protein food options provides an opportunity for Alberta producers and processors to capitalize on this growing market.
‘The key market drivers are concerns regarding health, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Marketing campaigns promoting the nutritional benefits and environmentally responsible production practices will experience the most success in appealing to consumer demand.’
Plant based protein makes up the largest share of this market, and Duering says that demand is expected to keep growing.
‘While market opportunities exist for many plant-based proteins, oats, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, flax seed, sunflower seed, mung beans and lentils are expected to experience the greatest growth.’
She notes that getting consumers to try plant-based meat alternatives is relatively easy compared to encouraging long-term adoption of these products.
‘Manufacturers must provide convincing evidence that plant-based meat is healthy and that its production is environmentally sustainable.’
As for cultured meats, Duering says that many barriers must be overcome before being accepted by the mainstream consumer.
Read Consumer Corner’s Alternative proteins and the consumer.
To connect with Ava Duering:
For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line: