What’s next for Australia and New Zealand’s alternative protein scene?

20 Jan 2023

Australian and New Zealand brands in the growing alternative protein sector turn their attention to local production and precision dairy fermentation.

The Australasian alternative proteins sector has seen steady growth between 2017 and 2022, expanding from less than five plant-based meat brands to over 30. During this time, the market has also seen its cellular agriculture space go from one company to eleven, operating in cultivated meat and precision fermentation.

What’s next for Australia and New Zealand’s alternative protein scene?
© AdobeStock/bit24

“While there is a significant presence of international brands in the commercial market in Australia and New Zealand, plant-based meat brands make up more than half of the 320 products on retail shelves nationwide,” Jane Sydenham-Clarke, CEO of Food Frontier, an independent think tank on alternative proteins in Australia and New Zealand, told Ingredients Network.

The sector is, however, recognised for its diverse players, with founders including award-winning chefs, former fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) executives and family-run meat businesses. Brands have also launched off the back of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, which seeks to commercialise research and development (R&D) in the plant protein and precision fermentation space.

vEEF is a chef-led company producing carbon-neutral plant-based mince, Vow is set to launch its cultivated quail product ‘Morsel’ in Singapore, and Nourish Ingredients produces animal-free fats using precision fermentation, which may play a significant role in future ‘hybrid’ products.

A first for alternative proteins

On the new product development (NPD) side, Food Frontier heard from companies seeking to catalyse the protein ingredient sector by considering a wide range of Australian-grown plants grown beyond the standard soy and pea crops. Manufacturers are looking to leverage partnerships with the beer and wine sector to use their equipment for precision fermentation. Producers are also looking to solve human breast milk supply challenges through cellular agriculture.

The event also spotlighted growing government investment in the sector, with key developments in early 2022, including new protein fractionation facilities in South Australia and plant protein R&D facilities in Victoria.

Since the event, Food Frontier has seen further developments, such as the Victorian Government’s 2030 Manufacturing Statement, including alternative proteins becoming, for the first time, a priority area for investment. The New South Wales (NSW) Government has released a report, which includes a recommendation to investigate opportunities to promote the growth of the plant-based protein manufacturing industry in NSW, Sydenham-Clarke says.

“Demand for protein is growing, particularly in Asia, which is right on our doorstep,” she adds.

Food Frontier wants to see Australian and New Zealand alternative protein producers steadily grow and succeed in capturing these export opportunities. The independent think tank has partnered with Mintel to develop research exploring five key Asia markets for a report set to launch early 2023.

Value-add opportunities co-exist with cost challenges

“Australia and New Zealand are global leaders in food and agriculture production, with significant natural resources to leverage in becoming leaders in alternative proteins,” says Sydenham-Clarke. In particular, there is space in the Australasia region to lead in growing and processing plant proteins.

Food Frontier confirms that its nations’ grains and legumes producers are beginning to consider the opportunity to value-add their crops rather than sell them into volatile global commodity markets.

Many Australian plant-based meat manufacturers have expressed a desire to purchase and use more Australian-grown plant proteins in their products, representing both an opportunity and a challenge. There has been only one commercial-scale pulse protein extraction facility, though significant government investment has been announced to build another in South Australia.

© AdobeStock/olyasolodenkoPictured: Precision fermentation dairy plant equipment © AdobeStock/olyasolodenko

A key regional challenge is reaching price parity with conventional meat. Rising costs, particularly of red meat, have made alternatives reach closer price parity. Cost concerns are even more significant for some brands, such as v2food, which base their positioning on launching their products at price parity. “However, without scale, smaller players have a journey to reach parity with animal meat,” says Sydenham-Clarke.

She also expects to see more precision fermentation dairy companies forming as the products progress through the regulatory process and get closer to market. In Australia, animal-free milk made by Eden Brew is expected to be on shelves in the next 12 to 18 months.

Related news

FrieslandCampina Ingredients expands into animal-free dairy sector

FrieslandCampina Ingredients expands into animal-free dairy sector

19 Jan 2023

A partnership between FrieslandCampina Ingredients and Triplebar Bio will bring animal-free dairy protein to market, a sustainable alternative to traditional dairy protein produced via precision fermentation.

Read more 
Kerry to sell sweet ingredients portfolio for €500m to IRCA

Kerry to sell sweet ingredients portfolio for €500m to IRCA

18 Jan 2023

Irish ingredient supplier Kerry will sell its sweet ingredients business to Italian food ingredients maker IRCA for €500 million as it looks to focus on areas where it can create the most value, its CEO said.

Read more 
South Korean ‘use-by’ dates enter into force

South Korean ‘use-by’ dates enter into force

17 Jan 2023

New guidelines replacing a product’s ‘sell-by' date with a ‘use-by’ date have entered into force in South Korea as the government tries to extend product shelf life and cut food waste.

Read more 
Danone sued by environmental groups over its global plastic pollution

Danone sued by environmental groups over its global plastic pollution

16 Jan 2023

A group of environmental groups, led by ClientEarth, is suing Danone for failing to adhere to France’s duty of vigilance law through its use of single-use plastic and pollution.

Read more 
Editors’ choice: Our roundup of the most innovative plant-based products

Editors’ choice: Our roundup of the most innovative plant-based products

13 Jan 2023

The plant-based sector is constantly evolving with fresh and innovative products. Creativity is endless in this space with plant-based versions of meat, dairy as well as confectionery advancing this sector of the food industry.

Read more 
Ukraine war, shortages, and rising prices affecting consumer food behaviour, survey finds

Ukraine war, shortages, and rising prices affecting consumer food behaviour, survey finds

12 Jan 2023

European consumers are cutting back on red meat, dairy, and alcohol in response to rising food costs, exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to a new report published by EIT Food.

Read more 
Plant-based fish and seafood launches around the world

Plant-based fish and seafood launches around the world

11 Jan 2023

From pea protein-based prawns to microalgae-based tuna alternatives, plant-based alternatives to fish and seafood are on the rise around the world.

Read more 
Mondelēz sells gum business; focuses on snacking in developed markets

Mondelēz sells gum business; focuses on snacking in developed markets

10 Jan 2023

Mondelēz’s plan to sell its gum business for $1.35bn, announced last month, reflects a strategy to reshape its portfolio, placing greater focus on its core chocolate, biscuit and baked snacks categories.

Read more 
Sustainable shift: The rise of aluminium-free containers

Sustainable shift: The rise of aluminium-free containers

9 Jan 2023

The packaging industry is looking to improve the sustainability of carton products by developing aluminium alternatives using fibre-based materials.

Read more 
Plastic packaging reduction requires industry rethink

Plastic packaging reduction requires industry rethink

6 Jan 2023

The food and beverage sector is calling for industry-wide collaboration and business model updates to reduce the environmental impact of plastic packaging.

Read more