A new report from the FAIRR initiative entitled “Plant-Based Profits” estimates that the alternative and plant-based protein market could reach $5.2 billion by 2020.
The report, which was prepared in collaboration with 57 large investors, highlights products such as the Impossible Burger, which, only 18 months after its launch, is now available in over 500 U.S. restaurants and has received over $250 million in funding.
The report urges food companies to take advantage of market growth by investing in the development of plant-based protein product lines and evaluates sixteen multinationals based on their perceived ability to do so. According to the report, Nestlé and Tesco are best positioned among the companies to take advantage of the transition to alternative plant-based proteins; Nestlé has an internal research and development team focused on protein innovation and organizes an annual protein summit, while Tesco recently launched a range of plant-based products.
“At Nestlé, we recognize that for a business like ours to be successful, we must take a long-term view,” Duncan Pollard, AVP of Stakeholders Engagement in Sustainability at Nestlé, tells Sustainable Brands. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to shape the sustainable production and consumption of food to preserve our planet for future generations.”
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M&S, Nestlé, and Unilever were the only three companies identified in the report as having specific goals to increase their alternative and plant-based protein portfolio, though all of the featured companies market at least one plant-based protein alternative, and many have invested in alternative protein companies: Cargill and Tyson Foods recently invested in Memphis Meats, a food technology company focused on clean meat. Tyson also recently announced the launch of a new plant-based protein line.
"Today’s Plant-Based Profits report shows that alternative proteins are rapidly going mainstream,” Jeremy Coller, Founder of the FAIRR Initiative and CIO of Coller Capital said in a recent interview. "It’s significant that all of the food producers and retailers engaged by investors now market at least one own-brand alternative protein product.”
The report also highlights the struggles that some companies have faced with regards to coherent promotion of these new products, identifying marketing strategies as a place with room for growth across the sector.
According to the report, plant-based food sales grew 8.1 percent between August 2016 and August 2017; plant-based cheese experienced the fastest growth, at 18 percent.