Promoters of plant-based meat suggest the sector could be worth up to $3 billion to Australia’s economy and generate thousands of jobs by 2030.
That prediction is at the top end of economic modelling commissioned by Food Frontier, a think tank dedicated to advancing the interests of alternative protein producers.
The findings show Australia’s plant-based meat sector currently generates almost $30 million in economic value, $150 million a year in consumer expenditure and supports 265 jobs.
At the low end of the modelling forecast the sector will be worth just $398 million by 2030, which means Food Frontier’s chosen prediction requires significant government support and business investment.
According to the report, Australian farmers have a potentially lucrative opportunity to grow crops for the plant-based meat supply chain and secure market share from imported products, demonstrating how the emerging sector complements Australian agriculture.
Food Frontier says the rise in consumer interest in the category is already driving greater availability and variety of plant-based meat options in foodservice and retail outlets across Australia.
Its analysis shows more than 100 plant-based meat products from 21 brands are currently stocked in major Australian supermarkets, from ‘traditional’ alternatives to ‘new generation’ products, with a series of new product launches by top chefs and food producers planned.
In restaurants and foodservice outlets, new product offerings include The Alternative Meat Co. burger in gourmet-burger chain Huxtaburger, and Beyond Meat’s headline-grabbing Beyond Burger featured on Grill’d menus nationwide.
Food Frontier CEO, Thomas King said Australia had the opportunity to become a global plant-protein powerhouse, and the country needed to act quickly to stake its claim in the global plant-based meat sector or risk being left behind by its competitors.
“From research and development into ingredients and high-protein crops, to capacity building across all stages of product manufacturing, a range of opportunities exist for investment, and grant and tax incentives, to help grow this new sector,” said King.
Market research from Colmar Brunton shows that two-thirds of Australians have not yet tried plant-based meat products, but one in three are limiting their consumption of conventional meat, driven by increasing awareness about the impacts of their food choices. Food Frontier suggests these two factors identify a huge growth opportunity for plant-based meat products.
“More and more Aussies are discovering that plant-based meats mean enjoying their favourite meals, from sausages to meatballs, while having a lighter impact on their health and the planet,” King said.