Alternative proteins won't render livestock unviable


Shan Goodwin, North Queensland Register (Australia) 

11 Feb 2020


NEW demand for red meat from a rising population will outweigh any additional market share that alternative proteins may gain in the near future, comprehensive analysis has found.


The work, funded by AgriFutures Australia and delivered by the Australian Farm Institute, indicates there is more than enough room for both animal-based and alternative proteins in the Australian market.


Animal agriculture will struggle to supply the world's growing demand for protein using the finite resources available in current production systems. So while alternative protein substitution will continue to increase in the next ten years, the levels will not present a material threat to the viability of beef and lamb producers.


The research found there will be an additional $19.9 billion opportunity for protein production by 2030, of which only $3.1b is attributed to alternative protein categories.


Alternative proteins include plant-sourced meat, dairy and egg substitutes, cultured or cellular meat, insects and algae.


AFI executive director Richard Heath said while there had been a lot of hype around the potential of so-called 'fake meat' as a disruptor of the livestock industry, this research showed the emerging market for alternative proteins should not be seen as a threat but rather a means of diversifying choices for producers, processors and consumers.


Livestock service providers and producer advocacy groups had reacted well to the emergence of alternative proteins and placed the industry on the front foot by gathering consumer data and community sentiment insights, Mr Heath said.


However, some individual reaction, largely on social media and often from the production sector, had not served the industry well.


The more aggressive approach and denigration of those producing alternative proteins was counterproductive, Mr Heath said.


This new analysis, outlined in the report The Changing Landscape of Protein Production, would provide comfort to those who see alternative proteins as sounding the death knell for animal production, Mr Heath said.


It concludes the new proteins should be seen as an opportunity to build Australian agriculture overall.


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