A new report 2020 State of the Industry: Australia’s Plant-Based Meat Sector reveals that Australian demand for plant-based meat products grew exponentially last year, despite the COVID-induced economic downturn.
The report by Food Frontier, an independent think tank on meat substitutes, shows that retail sales increased by 46% in the year to June 2020, with manufacturing revenues rising from $35 million to $70 million and the number new jobs more than doubling.
Plant-based food is now the fastest growing food category in Australia, with the industry projected to be valued at $6 billion by 2030, up from $185 million last year. Modelling conducted by Deloitte Access Economics in 2019 estimates that Australia’s plant-based meat sector could create over 6,000 new jobs.
Despite the positive gains, Food Frontier CEO Thomas King says all levels of government will need to support the burgeoning sector through R&D investment if Australia wants to establish itself as a leader in alternative proteins and capitalise on export opportunities to Asia –- where demand is anticipated to grow 200% over the next five years. “With the right political will, Australia can build a multi-billion-dollar plant-based meat industry, enabling our food businesses and farmers to capitalise on fast-growing global demand for alternative proteins.”
“Australia has the agricultural capacity, commercial appetite and research know-how to become an international leader in new protein industries including plant-based meat. To not make the early investments necessary to leverage these unique strengths would be a missed opportunity.”
The Australian market mirrors global trends for plant-based proteins, with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists investing US$1.5 billion in the sector last year; a sector that analysts at UBS predict will be worth $85 billion by 2030.
High-profile investors are also looking for a big slice of the plant-based pie. In his new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates advocates the transition to plant-based meats, disclosing his investments in alternative protein companies such as Beyond Meats, Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats. More recently, the billionaire philanthropist has called on rich countries to commit to a transition to “100% plant-based beef consumption” to help mitigate climate change.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year – roughly equal to the emissions caused by trains, planes, cars, and ships. Furthermore, 80% of deforestation in the Amazon is caused by cattle ranchers, with one-third of the world’s arable land growing feed for animals not food for humans.
Climate scientists and environmentalists agree that reducing meat consumption is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change. In David Attenborough’s new film, A Life On This Planet, the environmentalist suggests that adopting a “mostly plant-based diet” will improve biodiversity, save wildlife and restore the planet.
As one in three Australians actively seek to limit their meat consumption and transition to plant-based or flexitarian diets, major Australian retailers Coles and Woolworths scramble to meet those needs, doubling the number of plant-based meat products on their shelves to more than 200.
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Cover image via Thank Fork.