Alternative Protein Market Has Potential to Top $5 Billion by 2020

Companies with plant-based options find investors, but retailers have trouble selling the products.

February 21, 2018

LONDON – Plant-based proteins have become big business, with a new report from FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return) finding that the market for alternative proteins would surpass $5 billion by 2020, Supermarket News reports. “Plant-based profits” found that the market would grow by more than 8% yearly to reach $5.2 billion within two years.

While sales of all foods sold in U.S. supermarkets dropped slightly in the 12 months prior to August 2017, retail sales of plant-based products that take the place of animal products jumped 8.1% during that time frame. For example, fueled by millennials, plant-based cheese alternatives grew a whopping 18%, becoming the fast-growing category. Around a third of millennials consume meat alternatives on a daily basis, with 50% eating the plant-based substitutes a few times weekly.

Food makers are looking to tap into this market. Tyson Foods and Cargill became investors of Memphis Meats. “We’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing meat, especially since global protein demand has been increasing at a steady rate,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods.

Despite increased interest from food manufacturers in alternative proteins, retailers have a hard time marketing the products. The report stated that “some companies have placed these products in the meat/dairy aisles to broaden their appeal. Others advocate displaying these products in separate but easily identifiable locations to help consumers that follow specific diets (vegan/vegetarian). This lack of consensus makes it crucial for companies to have systems that can continuously monitor consumer preferences at the sub-category level to change purchasing habits.”