Alternative protein reports published

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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Plant & Food Research have today released their joint report: The evolution of plant protein – assessing consumer response.

The report was commissioned to assess consumer responses to protein and highlight the potential impacts to the New Zealand agricultural industry.

New Zealand’s social, environmental, and economic well-being is linked to New Zealand's ability to supply the rest of the world with protein. New Zealand's animal-based protein export revenue alone accounts for 60% of New Zealand's total primary exports. This demand will grow as the global population is set to increase to 8.1 billion by 2025.

"This is the very first exploratory piece of work MPI has done in this area. The report explores how consumers have become more aware of the long-term impacts of food production and signals change for traditional animal protein producers.

"The findings will inform our work programme to support primary sector resilience in the face of these impacts and changing consumer habits. The report also includes opportunities to create value through a point of difference for traditional New Zealand products," says Jarred Mair, acting deputy director-general for policy and trade.

"In order for New Zealand to retain a competitive edge in our primary exports, we want to ensure we are looking ahead at what the future consumer might demand in our products and what opportunities are available for our sector," says Dr Jocelyn Eason of Plant & Food Research.

To assess where markets are heading in the next 5 years the report analysed consumer responses to plant-based proteins released in the United States and consumer attitudes to proteins in China. Our research has shown that wealthy western economies such as the US will require an innovative product that meets consumer needs.

The key findings of the report include:

  • Progress towards new protein innovations caused by increasing global pressures and changing consumer needs requires a long-term strategy to protect, to innovate, and to grow our primary industries.
  • Consumer preferences and awareness of the consequences of food production is creating a need for new products.
  • Dependency on a few markets and products creates risks and therefore innovation and assessment of consumer and market trends are critical to ensure the long-term success of primary industries in New Zealand.

The release of the report includes a package of 3 additional market insight reports that relate to alternative proteins and demonstrates the rapid change that may occur in the primary sector from new food innovations. These reports are in the public domain and are:

  1. Impossible Burger case study (Authored by MPI)
  2. Protein: A Chinese perspective (Authored by Plant & Food Research)
  3. Opportunities in plant-based foods - proteins (Authored by Plant & Food Research)

Notes about the reports

The evolution of plant protein – assessing consumer response

Co-authored by MPI and Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand-based Crown Research Institute, which provides research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, arable and seafood products.

This report explores how consumers have become more aware of the long term impacts of food production, signalling an impending change for traditional animal protein producers. This shift in preferences has led to a new wave of innovative meat and dairy substitutes that are being released to reduce the reliance on animal-based production systems protein in global diets.

The Impossible Burger – consumer insights

Authored by MPI, this report investigates the plant-based burger, which is a patty developed to replicate the taste, texture, and smell of beef. Developed by Impossible Foods, the Impossible Burger made significant steps to meet this goal with the development of theme, a product designed to replicate the properties of ‘bleeding’ meat.

The Impossible Burger report shows that this product is at the forefront of companies innovating and significantly improving meat replacement products, yet consumer sentiment analysis shows that further innovation is required to develop a product that is a large threat.

Protein: A Chinese perspective

Authored by Plant & Food Research.

The global diet is changing, with an increased focus on plant-based protein sources. Much of the current understanding around the growing adoption of plant-based sources of protein is based on Western markets. This report outlines findings from exploratory research in China to understand the significance of different protein sources in the Chinese diet and whether the Western trend is likely to gain momentum in this key market for New Zealand exports.

Opportunities in plant-based foods – proteins

Authored by Plant & Food Research.

New Zealand’s current protein production is focused on proteins sourced from dairy and meat. There is ongoing discussion in society and industry on where the sustainability limits are for meat and dairy production in New Zealand, and what role diversification of protein sources to include plant-based protein might play in our premium future foods. To take advantage of the new consumer trends towards plant-based foods and “flexitarian” lifestyles, there are significant opportunities for New Zealand to expand and develop plant-based protein sources.

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