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AustralianFarmers

Alternative proteins: Diversifying for the future

A recent report published by Food Frontier outlines Australia’s $3 billion opportunity to grow its plant-based/alternative protein market.

The report showcases research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics on how the popularity of plant-based alternatives is increasing as numbers of consumers try out protein alternatives that are tasty, nutritious and familiar.

It also outlines how growing consumer interest in alternative/plant proteins is an economic opportunity for Australian farmers.

“Australia has a massive opportunity to become a global plant-protein powerhouse, and the great news is we already have the intellectual and infrastructure assets to seize it,” Food Frontier CEO Thomas King said.

“Considering the region we live in is home to more than half of humanity, investing in plant proteins for the plant-based meat sector for both domestic and export markets is a complementary opportunity for Australian farmers which sits alongside traditional agriculture as a ‘value-add’,” King said.

As protein alternatives are gaining in awareness, new offerings have arrived in grocery and fast food retailers.  

Leading protein alternative company, Beyond Burger, hit Australian supermarket shelves in December last year, joining 18 Australian protein alternative brands.

Following, Australian fast-food chains have jumped at the opportunity to experiment with protein alternatives. Beyond Burger is now sold at all Grill’d restaurants across Australia, while Hungry Jacks launched its ‘Rebel Whopper’ featuring the V2food plant-based burger, selling more than a million to date since ramping up promotions.

Australian fast food chain, Lord of the Fries, is a 100% vegan establishment that landed in Melbourne in 2004 whose revenue grew by 25% in 2018.

“We didn’t expect the level of growth that we’ve received, especially over the last year. The business had been travelling along at a “normal” increase every year, then in 2018 we saw a massive boom,” said CEO and co-founder Mark Koronczyk.

“We believe this was partly due to our exclusive partnership with the highly anticipated and globally recognised Beyond Meat, as well as the visible shift in attitudes towards plant-based foods and demand for ethical alternatives.”

Despite growing consumer interest, there has been concern within the agriculture community that alternative protein is taking profit away from Australian farmers.

Addressing these concerns, Food Frontier’s report recognises how protein alternatives provide potential for Australian farmers to grow and supply new optimised crops as inputs to these products.

Currently, a great majority of protein alternative products consists of primarily imported ingredients due to limited local ingredient supply. As domestic manufacturing increases, demand for locally grown ingredients will incentivise greater investment in domestic protein isolation operations.   

“State and federal governments have a key role to play in incentivising R&D and enabling greater local infrastructure to support Australian farmers, food businesses and everyone else tied to the supply chain to participate in this rapidly growing and lucrative industry,” said Food Frontier King.

The report identified Australia’s alternative protein industry as an emerging sector, generating approximately $150 million in Australian retail sales, almost $30 million in manufacturing and supporting 265 jobs in 2018-19.

By 2030, the report projects that if the current moderate growth trajectory continues, the sector will generate almost $3 billion in retail sales, over $1 billion in manufacturing and employ over 6,000 Australians.

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