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Meat alternatives now billion-dollar retail market

Increasing interest causing major protein players to rethink protein opportunities and take action.

Major retail opportunities remain in meat and poultry, but not for the usual products or for the usual players, according to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts.

The report explained that leading players have done much to innovate in meat and poultry with new and acquired products that offer premium farm-to-table experiences with authentic stories, organic ingredients or grass-fed, free-range and locally raised animals. This will continue, but Packaged Facts said meat substitutes and meat alternatives are what have garnered much of the recent attention in the market, causing major producers to rethink their protein opportunities and take action.

In fact, the report estimates retail sales of meat substitutes at about $1 billion, with sales traditionally driven by vegans and vegetarians. An increasing number of consumers are embracing plant-based foods, expanding the market from the popular turkey and veggie burgers to meat-like burgers that “bleed” and offer taste and texture characteristics similar to meat.

“Major food industry players have taken notice of shifting consumer trends regarding protein sources and are acquiring or investing in plant-based brands to strengthen their competitive edge,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

Further, the report suggested that lab-grown or cultured meat is likely to be the next major market disruptor. In fact, the concept has attracted a lot of attention recently, with both Tyson Foods and Cargill, as well as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, investing in start-up Memphis Meats.

Still, the concept of lab-grown meat has caused controversy and consternation in some arenas. Proponents often call it “clean meat” because it is free of many traditional meat contaminants. However, in September 2018, producers agreed to use the term “cell-based meat” to avoid controversy.

Additionally, an industry trade association is expected to be established to represent the sector’s interests, which Packaged Facts said will surely promote what followers see as the product’s potential benefits: production efficiency, environmental sustainability and food safety.

TAGS: Business
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