Amidst growing demand for meat alternatives as consumers take a more conscious approach to their diets and overall health, the alternative proteins sector is facing headwinds in keeping up with concerns surrounding flavour and nutrient profiles, as well as the diversification of products to meet growing demands.
“…it is a completely new sector, so it is even more important to accurately understand the properties [that make a good product],” says Senior Executive Vice President Jeremy Burks at Roquette, a global ingredients company creating plant-based ingredients that deems itself ‘a pioneer of new vegetal proteins’.
“When looking at these properties, it is just as important to get these in terms of what consumers want…[and it is] up to us to articulate these properties in terms of technical parameters, so as to transfer these properties to the actual products by creating the right processes – and that’s a big scientific effort, one which we have invested a lot in over the past couple of years.”
The Roquette team sees this challenge to convert consumer demands into technical product innovation as a challenge in the Asia Pacific region, where consumer tastes are known to be especially discerning, yet remains positive on the sector’s growth potential. “There will be a switch to more plant-based products and alternatives, and we believe this is going to happen not just in the meat space but also the beverage space,” says Roquette APAC CEO Rohit Markan.
In Europe, governments recognising similar challenges for the sector in the region have unveiled new funding to support the mainstreaming of alternative protein products. The European Union has provided €13.9 million in funding through the launch of its Like-A-Pro project to make the dietary shift towards sustainable and healthy nutrition and food systems more feasible across Europe. The project provides funding for innovation across new protein types to address challenges in the product development stage that have hindered product availability and accessibility,according to Spain’s Association for Research, Development, and Innovation of the Agri-Food Sector.
Recent research from global consumer and sensory research agency MMR Research explores consumer interest in new segments of the alternative proteins sector, showing that consumers are open to trying products made through technological innovation such as cultivated meat and precision fermented dairy.
While driving consumer demand and understanding for these products will require significant collaboration amongst the sector, the most immediate obstacle is securing regulatory approval for cultivated meats and precision fermentation products. Currently, Singapore is the only country to grant regulatory approval for cultivated meat, while precision fermented dairy products are authorised for sale in the United States.
Read More: Converting consumer demands into technical concepts key challenge for APAC’s plant-based sector [Food Navigator Asia]
Why consumers don’t equate sustainable innovation with ‘natural’ [Food Navigator Asia]
Mainstreaming alt protein: EU bets on 7 novel sustainable proteins to feed the masses [Food Navigator Asia]