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Alternative proteins: the bigger picture
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Plant-based is here to stay. Unlock its full potential.

Plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy offer a unique opportunity to write the next chapter for alt protein and drive economic growth while protecting public health and mitigating the climate crisis. But further innovation and optimizations are needed to enable plant-based proteins to compete with conventional products on cost, accessibility, texture, and flavor.

Our consulting team will help you connect the dots within the plant-based industry so you can confidently navigate the future of alt proteins every step of the way.

Navigating the plant-based industry

Perspective

Plant-based surges

In addition to the niche vegan demographic, plant-based solutions have broadened to serve flexitarian consumers. Initially, the solutions didn’t live up to the expectations of the mass market but, due to the fast-paced development of the industry, superior products are now available.
CHALLENGE

Fierce competition

Consumer demands continue to rise but competition is fierce; future industry winners will have to do more than simply establish a strong brand. Investing heavily in R&D and manufacturing capabilities is crucial to maintain a competitive edge and ensure reliable high-scale production capacity.
Opportunity

Massive potential

The considerable buzz around existing players might give the sense that the field is already crowded but the total global market size is still relatively small. The ultimate potential for new and existing players is immense: from harnessing untapped high-potential crops to developing game-changing products.
Helping industry leaders 
to win in alternative proteins
Featured case

Go-to-market strategy for plant-based meat

client: TOP 10 GLOBAL FMCG
Our client asked us to assess the plant-based meat industry in 3 different countries across Europe and Asia.

Client feedback

"The BGP team helped us assess the alt protein market and better understand the most promising technologies and ingredients. Beyond providing insights and strategy advisory, they also helped us to strengthen our network in this space."
Steve Chantry
Vice President of International Growth
Kraft Heinz Company

Plant-based FAQs

What is plant-based meat?

Plant-based meat aims to deliver the same experience as eating conventional meat but without many of the negative impacts associated with the animal agriculture industry.

Also known as vegan, faux, fake, or plant meat, it can match the appearance, taste, cooking method, and nutritional value of the meat-based product it seeks to replace. Plant-based meat is made from a variety of animal-free ingredients, including vegetable proteins, plant oils, and vegan binding agents.

Ingredients derived from fungi and algae, while not biologically classified as plant ingredients, are also commonly used in the production of plant-based meats and are therefore included in our definition.

There are also crossovers with other pillars of the alt meat industry. For example, the products of processes such as precision fermentation and lab-grown meat can be combined with additional plant-based ingredients to form “hybrid” plant-based meat alternatives.

How is plant-based meat made and what challenges are presented along the way?

To replicate meat-based products, industry players must overcome multiple technical challenges. These present opportunities for innovation along the entire three step process of plant-based meat production:

  1. Crop development

    Animal meat is chiefly comprised of muscle tissue, something that plants don’t possess. Nevertheless, muscle tissue can be deconstructed into proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water, all of which nature can provide.

    For example, many conventional crops, such as soy and wheat, contain the primary raw materials used for plant-based meat production: plant proteins. Alternatively, if nature can’t provide, biological, mechanical, or chemical processes can be used to produce an analog.

    Suitable crops are chosen based on their taste; protein, fat, and fiber content; ease of ingredient isolation, and solubility. What’s more, different plant proteins possess various functional properties that influence the sensory and nutritional qualities of the end product.

  2. Ingredient optimization

    While many plant-based meats can be made using whole ingredients, such as beans and mushrooms, others require more purified and concentrated components. In this case, crops need to be processed to isolate the raw material of interest, including proteins, fats, and fibers.

    Due to the ever-increasing diversity of plant sources used, there is a growing need for novel ingredient processing methodologies; some crops may require unique methods of milling and fractionation.

  3. Formulation and manufacturing

    Another challenge to tackle is the arrangement of the fundamental plant-based elements to emulate the distinctive texture of meat. Larger cuts of meat, such as plant-based chicken breasts and steak, are much more challenging to replicate than plant-based mince meat and hamburgers.

    To achieve the desired muscle-like texture that delivers a realistic mouthfeel, numerous manufacturing processes can be employed. For example, kneading, stretching, folding, layering, shear cell processing, 3D printing, slicing, and high moisture extrusion can each produce unique shapes and textures.

    Many of these techniques can also influence the functional and nutritional properties of the end plant-based meat product. It’s subsequently important to carefully plan and test combinations of plant proteins and other ingredients to ensure they perform as desired during specific production methods.

How can we advance the plant-based meat industry further?

The media attention regarding certain existing players might give the sense that the field of plant-based meat has peaked, yet this prognosis is seriously misguided. Many plant-based meat brands are experiencing significant growth, such as Impossible’s 70% surge in retail sales in 2022. And, according to Nestlé, global industry sales are set to grow by approximately 20% per annum across the next five years.

What’s more, innovations continue to promise new and exciting possibilities for the end products, from expanding the offering of raw materials to producing ingredients with better functional qualities and ultimately developing game-changing products that are tastier and healthier.

Some of the future plant-based meat opportunities include:

  • Optimizing the upstream supply chain
    Developments within the upstream supply chain, such as the optimization of the seeds and crops used as raw materials, offer opportunities for price and sensory parity.

  • Advances in ingredient processing
    Novel biological, mechanical, and chemical processing techniques could improve high-quality yield and functionality while ensuring purity. Investment in this area would reduce costs and help companies to scale efficiently.

  • Optimizing new and existing scalable technology
    Current production equipment can be leveraged to optimize factors such as throughput, purity, and protein texturization. Opportunities also lie in infrastructure capital and the development of novel scalable manufacturing equipment tailored toward specific ingredients and outputs.

What about other plant-based alternatives?

The majority of plant-based food categories are growing faster than their animal-based counterparts, with plant milk taking the lead as the most popular plant-based product among omnivores. Yogurts and creamers aren’t too far behind and egg alternatives experienced the fastest market growth, although it remains the least developed category.

Plant-based seafood is another area experiencing fast growth. Since more than 3 billion people in the world eat seafood as one of their main sources of animal protein, there is a significant market opportunity for this category.

Our consulting solutions

Key topics
We help you connect the dots within the plant-based meat industry so you can confidently navigate the future of alternative proteins at every step of the value chain.
Ingredient optimization
Formulation
Techno-economic assessment
Manufacturing
Binders & stabilizers
Fats & oils
Extrusion
Labeling
Functionality
Shelf-life
Methylcellulose
Starches
Shear cell
High-moisture
Power heater
Clean label
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