Global agricultural giant Arthur Daniels Midland Company (ADM) released its 2022 Alternative Protein Outlook recently, revealing seven emerging trends the company says are taking shape right now. The findings, based on research from the company’s proprietary Outside Voice consumer insights platform, are a “deeper dive” into what’s next for protein alternatives, which are expected to climb to a staggering $125 billion by 2030.
Leticia Goncalves, president of Global Foods for ADM, says the number of plant-based meat, cheese, and dairy products available to consumers has more than doubled over the last 12 months. And ADM expects product rollouts will continue aiming to meet consumers’ “heightened demand for health-forward solution.” ADM also notes that current projections indicate the world will need produce more food in the next 40 years than we have in the past 8,000 years to feed the world’s population. “This is going to require alternatives that extend well beyond conventional protein sources.” ADM expects new products will be heavily influenced in the years ahead by the seven emerging trends highlighted below:
1. Novel Protein Sources – Brands are exploring a wide range of innovative protein sources to supplement the industry’s continued focus on pea and soy. Cell-based solutions made from cultivated animal cells are on their way to becoming increasingly mainstream as industry leaders such as Future Meat Technologies are developing more efficient processes for manufacturing meat products at scale. Beyond cell-based options, a number of new and existing players in the space are exploring novel protein sources coming from air particles, volcanic ash, seaweed, insects, and more.
2. Fermentation-as-a-service – There’s been growing interest in microbial fermentation as a novel method for developing alternative protein products. Global players, like ADM, that have expansive fermentation capabilities are exploring new ways to serve food, beverage, and health and wellness brands that are seeking support with downstream processing, lab services and consulting, among other components essential to food-grade fermentation.
3. Next-generation, plant-based, whole-muscle solutions – Whole-muscle, plant-based solutions, such as chicken breast alternatives, are becoming increasingly available to consumers in markets all over the world. These solutions will continue to evolve as brands seek out novel ways to reproduce the texturization of animal-based whole-muscle cuts, from T-bone steaks to shellfish. ADM says it won’t be long before families are carving whole-muscle plant-based turkeys over the holidays.
4. Innovation and transparency from seed to fork – As concerns about climate change continue to grow, consumers are increasingly demanding greater sustainability in existing food systems. This has led many to seek out brands and products that can provide the plant-based solutions they crave in a way that’s environmentally and ethically sound. Seed-to-fork initiatives, as an example, leverage cutting-edge technology to improve seed breeding, and lessen the cost, time and environmental impact associated with creating consumer-ready protein sources.
5. Moving toward price parity of cultivated meat products – Companies like Future Meat Technologies are helping power a move toward more price parity of cell-based solutions with more traditional alternatives. In December, the company announced that it is now producing cultivated chicken breast for just $7.70 per pound, down from approximately $18 per pound six months prior. These types of products will be more accessible to consumers in the near future.
6. Kid-friendly product formats – Plant-based chicken nuggets are just the beginning. New products featuring kid-friendly flavors, colors and formats (think fun, familiar and easy to eat and drink) are becoming a focus for brands looking to appeal to flexitarian parents and kids across varying life stages and ages, from yogurt to pizza and mac-and-cheese. In fact, ADM’s Outside VoiceSM research indicates that the largest cohort of flexitarian consumers are parents who are looking for mealtime solutions that delight and nourish all family members.
7. Plant-based versions of traditional, authentic cuisines – To meet the growing global demand for traditional dishes, brands are exploring solutions that can provide the regional specificity and appeal that today’s consumers desire, from plant-based shawarma to schnitzel and shrimp dumplings. Through new products featuring an assortment of globalized flavors, textures and product formats, brands are aiming to deliver an array of tasty, satiating comfort food analogues.