Despite a challenging macroeconomic landscape, the alternative protein industry is showing signs of resilience and promising growth. Here are five market developments we are watching for in 2023.
I – Regulatory Barriers Will Lower
With the FDA declaring, in late 2022, that UPSIDE Foods’ cultivated chicken is safe to consume it is likely that more companies will begin seeking authorization for sale and these products will begin to move into the market. Within the U.S. it is possible that the first cultivated meat items will launch for sale during this calendar year.
Industry experts from the Good Food Institute are optimistic that this prediction will be realized, stating “FDA clearance in the U.S. helps to lay the groundwork for cultivated meat to be cleared to enter markets around the world. Many countries defer to U.S. guidance on food regulation and labeling, so U.S. regulatory approval of cultivated meat is likely to usher in additional approvals in other markets.”
II – Food Giants Will Continue To Invest In Plant-Based
Throughout 2022 it became evident that food giants have a growing interest in the alternative protein space, and a willingness to invest money, resources, and expertise into this category. Large producers including Nestle, Bel Group, ADM, Kraft Heinz and Tnuva have all recently announced partnerships with alternative protein startups to develop and bring to market more of these products.
These partnerships present a valuable opportunity for young companies that can benefit from brand recognition, resource pooling, and supply chain optimization. Throughout 2023 we expect to see more of these strategic partnerships announced as more of these major players look to expand their presence in the category.
III – Consumer Knowledge Will Shape The Industry
Consumer demand will direct the growth of this industry and, in this increasingly difficult economic environment, understanding these preferences is more important than ever.
Coming out of 2022, a slew of data is available about this category, including notable points such as:
Consumer research commissioned by GFI APAC has revealed that a guarantee of no mercury present is the driving motivation for consuming alternative seafood in Singapore, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.
In Europe, a recent survey found that more than half of consumers have reduced their meat consumption in the past five years, and many are willing to buy cultivated meat.
In the UK, upwards of a third of consumers declared they would purchase cultivated or hybrid meat products when they enter the market.
A new study published by Nature indicated that 86% of regular plant-based meat consumers also purchase conventional meat items indicating that flexitarians still make up the majority of this market.
IV – Clean Label Products Will Continue To Grow In Popularity
It’s predicted that clean-label alternative protein products made from recognizable ingredients will continue to grow in popularity throughout 2023. At this time in the market’s development consumers are questioning whether these products are healthier, which is often a driver for repeat purchases.
Especially in this period of inflationary prices when alternative protein items may cost more than conventional products, we expect that cleaner-label options will outperform others in the space.
V – Structured Plant-Based Meat Options Will Become More Common
In previous years unstructured plant-based meat options like ground “beef” and shredded “chicken” dominated the market, though in 2023 we expect to see more whole-muscle options enter the market.
Brands like Juicy Marbles, Chunk Foods and Meati have already launched steak-like products, while Beyond Steak will soon be available on a mass scale. As the technology around alternative protein production continues to improve in both sophistication and accessibility more startups will take advantage of this to launch structured plant-based meat options at a rate previously unseen.