Plant-based protein demand is growing and while most people think vegans are the driving force behind it we actually have to thank the “flexitarians”, those who switch between eating both meat and meatless meat. Flexitarians have multiple approaches to their diets, meaning some limit their meat choices to items that meet certain criteria like high welfare, locally sourced, or 100% grass-fed, while for others it’s more about cutting back on eating animal-based products on certain days of the week, such as Meatless Mondays.

Global meat consumption is also continuing to rise as developing countries are more able to afford it as a source of protein. Data from Statista shows beef consumption is projected to increase to 72 million tons in 2021 from 67 million in 2017, while poultry will likely hit an even bigger increase, to 129 million tons in 2021 from 117 million in 2017 as the global population increases. This poses the question, how will the global protein industry both meat, plant-based and other alternatives, address this increasing demand and need for protein in a sustainable way?

Tyson Foods has launched “Coalition for Global Protein”, hoping all players in the sector will get on board to advance the future of global protein. Keep in mind, by protein, Tyson does not just mean meat, as the company famously rebranded itself as a “global protein company” a couple of years ago when they invested in plant-based meat leader Beyond Meat, divesting just before the IPO and launching its own brand Raised & Rooted. It’s also invested in cultivated meat startups such as Memphis Meats. To mark the coalition’s launch, Tyson convened leaders from the global protein industry as well as academia, non-governmental organizations and financial institutions in Davos, Switzerland, alongside the 50th World Economic Forum. 

Corporate sustainability initiatives have become a popular new tactic for big food companies who are looking to remain relevant to consumers as new, progressive, and more nimble companies enter the market. Our takeaway as producers in the protein space is that we have to work to better understand initiatives like these and learn as much as we can about what’s driving consumer sentiment and demand. Like it or not, “meatless meat” is most likely here to stay so get yourself positioned for success. (Source: Tysonfoods, Agfunder, foodbusinessnews, Thought for Food)

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