Study release: "Plant-based meat manufacturing capacity and pathways for expansion"
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Plant-based meat manufacturing capacity and pathways for expansion

The plant-based meat industry has undergone impressive expansion in the last decade, emphasizing the need for supply chains to keep pace and prevent any potential shortages. Bright Green Partners recently collaborated with The Good Food Institute to address these challenges directly. This study offers a comprehensive analysis of global plant-based meat manufacturing and strategic recommendations for expanding capacity to meet future demand.
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Study details

Plant-based meat plays a vital role in the alternative protein landscape, driving a shift in the habits of traditional meat eaters. As the industry expands its product availability and variety, it is crucial for supply chains to keep pace, ensuring accessibility, affordability, and avoiding shortages.

Our plant-based meat manufacturing capacity study delves into the current landscape and explores pathways for capacity expansion. We examine the benefits of retrofitting existing facilities and evaluate the size of the retrofit opportunity. Additionally, we compare the trade-offs, capital expenditure (CapEx), lead times, and other factors between greenfield construction and retrofitting.

These points are further compared through two hypothetical build-out scenarios, where plant-based meat demand grows incrementally from 2022 to 2030. The first scenario involves retrofitting half of the facilities while constructing the other half through greenfield development. The second scenario focuses solely on greenfield construction.

Concluding our study, we offer recommendations for both public and private sectors that aim to proactively and conscientiously expand global production capacity for plant-based meat products. These recommendations emphasize the importance of timely investments, ongoing product innovation, and the expansion of production capacity in terms of geographic spread and scale. By implementing these measures, we can effectively prevent supply chain shortages, foster long-term category growth, improve affordability, and cater to the evolving preferences of consumers.

Selected highlights

possible CapEx savings of retrofitting compared to greenfield construction
2+ years
possible lead time savings of retrofitting compared to greenfield construction
of extrusion and meat processing facilities can be adapted for plant-based meat
Author insights
“Spare plant-based meat manufacturing capacity will likely be used up by 2026, making retrofitting a very attractive capital-efficient option to quickly scale capacity.”
Floor Buitelaar
Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Bright Green Partners

Study FAQs

How does the recent slow-down in plant-based meat sales affect the need to scale manufacturing capacity?

Despite the recent slow-down in plant-based meat sales, it is important to note that underlying consumer interest remains strong and the plant-based meat sector is predicted to continue its upward trajectory.

Many industry commentators agree that the extraordinary growth experienced in 2020 was partly driven by COVID-19-related purchasing behaviors. As consumer behavior returned to pre-2020 patterns in 2021, it offset some of the previous year's rapid expansion. Additionally, various political and economic factors since 2021, such as a general economic slowdown, increasing inflation, and rising interest rates, have impacted the overall market conditions.

However, in the Netherlands, for instance, plant-based meat products have already become less expensive than their animal meat equivalents, which could contribute to increased consumer adoption and demand. Furthermore, the 2022 GFI report on the plant-based state of the industry showed that global sales by weight grew by 5%. This finding signifies the continued necessity to expand manufacturing capacity.

While the recent sales slow-down presents a temporary challenge, the long-term outlook for the plant-based meat industry remains promising.

What kind of existing facilities could be retrofitted to produce plant-based meat?

Existing facilities in industries that employ extrusion technology, such as the pasta, pet food, dry snacks, and breakfast cereal industries, can be repurposed and retrofitted to manufacture extruded plant-based meat products. In terms of post-processing, existing meat processing facilities have the potential for retrofitting.

For the purposes of this study, a facility is considered suitable for retrofit if more than 80% of the equipment and the building can be reused without requiring significant investments. It is also assumed that most retrofits will be performed by the original owners of these facilities rather than other companies. However, there are cases where companies, like Rebellyous, a US-based plant-based chicken producer, have successfully retrofitted a meat processing plant to establish their facility in Seattle.

We also do not consider the willingness to retrofit, as many suitable facilities may not necessarily have owners willing to sell or retrofit the facility.

What about emerging technologies such as 3D printing or shear cell?

Our study considers only extrusion technology for producing textured proteins, leaving 3D printing, electrospinning, shear cell, and other emerging technologies out of scope. We assume that extrusion will remain the predominant technology utilized in the industry for the next decade. However, the development of these technologies, along with advancements in throughput optimization, could potentially reduce the magnitude of manufacturing capacity expansion required in the future.

How can Bright Green Partners assist my company in building plant-based meat manufacturing capacity?

Bright Green Partners offers a wide range of services to support businesses in the plant-based meat industry, including business strategy, conceptual design and engineering, and techno-economic assessment. You can find more details about our services and selected project credentials by visiting the case studies section of our website. Additionally, if you're interested in learning more about our previous work and would like to hear directly from a former client, we would be more than happy to arrange a connection for you.
Get a glimpse of our in-depth study
  • Retrofit vs greenfield facility comparison
  • Extrusion production capacity [MMT]
  • Post-processing production capacity [MMT]
  • Plant-based meat post-processing facilities size and count by region

About Bright Green Partners

Bright Green Partners is a global strategy consultancy with a top tier consulting team powered by a 2500+ expert network and a dedicated focus on sustainable food alternatives. We provide comprehensive strategies, M&A advisory and due diligence for corporate clients and investment firms in the plant-based, fermentation (traditional, enzymatic, biomass & precision), cultivated and molecular farming markets. We operate globally across the entire value chain, from ingredient suppliers, technology and equipment companies to manufacturers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. This combination ensures we provide comprehensive and actionable strategies, helping our clients navigate complex decisions, maximize strategic objectives and investment returns in the sustainable food alternatives sector.

About The Good Food Institute

The Good Food Institute is a nonprofit think tank working to make the global food system better for the planet, people, and animals. Alongside scientists, businesses, and policymakers, GFI’s teams focus on making plant-based and cultivated meat delicious, affordable, and accessible. Powered by philanthropy, GFI is an international network of organizations advancing alternative proteins as an essential solution needed to meet the world’s climate, global health, food security, and biodiversity goals.
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This study offers a comprehensive analysis of global plant-based meat manufacturing and strategic recommendations for expanding capacity to meet future demand.
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