New report explores present and future possibilities for plant proteins
Plant-based protein production has grown dramatically in order to meet the increasing demand coming from the swelling global population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. In a new report entitled “Plant Proteins: Present & Future,” Lux Research evaluates 24 crops and their attractiveness as plant protein sources.
Lux analysed 24 different plant protein sources on crop production factors globally and for three major regions: North America, Europe and Asia. Overall, Lux identified soy, wheat, and rice as the top three “staple” crops for plant protein, with pea, canola, oat, and chickpea as the “alternative” up-and-comers.
For North America and Europe, soy and wheat are the top plant protein sources, respectively, but given their extensive nonfood uses, along with the general diversification of plant proteins, Lux states that pea, oat, and canola are more attractive opportunities within these regions going forward. Lux’s report states oat and canola as particularly appealing, as numerous companies are already scaling up pea protein production, investing nearly half a billion dollars in facility construction since 2017. Asia is reportedly in a unique position given that the region has a near monopoly on several crops. Two of these are rice and chickpea, with Asia responsible for 90% and 75% of global production, respectively. These are not as widely used for protein ingredients as the other short-listed crops, which Lux says highlights their untapped potential.
Lux states that three major storylines are shaping the plant protein space: the rise of insurgents like Beyond Meat, the proliferation of product launches from large multinational corporations (MNCs) like Tyson, and the onset of trade uncertainty from events like the US-China trade war. Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report, Thomas Hayes, said, “The storylines signal the need for the diversity of protein sources as both startups and MNCs move beyond soy, and for those sources to be capable of not only supporting the increasing supply requirements of these companies but also regional self-sufficiency to mitigate trade risk.”
Looking to the future, Hayes added, “Technology innovation will play an important role in unlocking new plant-based protein opportunities, especially when combined with sources that are affordable, accessible, and abundant.”
Gene editing or advanced breeding approaches will increase protein content in crops, while innovative extraction methods will enable new crops as sources of protein isolates and concentrates. Lux also predicts that novel processing technologies and ingredients will improve the sensory and nutritional qualities of plant-based proteins. Such innovations will allow growers to demand a premium, defray protein extraction costs downstream, further broaden the consumer appeal of plant-based products, and more.
For more information, download the executive summary of the Lux Research report here.