As the alternative protein sector continues to boom, 35 speakers from the upcoming Future Food-Tech summit share their perspectives and predictions: Which category is set for the biggest growth?

Plant-Based Whole-Cuts

“The alternative protein sector is poised to move increasingly toward delivering whole-cuts rather than primarily minced meat products. We will also see a proliferation of companies leveraging multiple production platforms — incorporating plant-based proteins, cultivated animal cells, and fermentation-derived ingredients into a single product, for instance,” shares Liz Specht, Associate Director of Science and Technology at The Good Food Institute

“In many countries, there are already dozens of plant-based companies offering the same products: patties and small chicken pieces. However, meat consumption is so much more than that: it includes whole-cuts, such as chicken breasts, steaks, whole-cuts of fish, etc. At Umiami, we’ve already seen immense traction for the whole-cuts we’re developing for our private-label partners,” adds Martin Habfast, Co-Founder at Umiami

“The alternative protein market will build on the success of burgers to expand into other “meat” categories such as chicken, whole muscle and processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs and deli meats, as well as seafood. The opportunity and challenge to alternative protein innovators is to ensure these product solutions are as healthy and nutritious, minimally processed, and healthy for the planet, as possible,” explains Jim Thorne, President at Nourish Ventures and SVP of Partnerships and Strategy at Griffith Foods

Meat Alternatives

“While meat alternatives represent less than 1% of global meat demand at present, it could be up to 10% if it replicates the alternative milk trajectory, according to MS & Co. Research.  The target market of the new food technology products such as plant-based meat and cultured meat, is meat-eaters,” says Lily Trager, Director of Impact Investing at Morgan Stanley

“We expect a spectacular growth in plant-based meat alternatives as many popular meat-based foods around the world could be made without animal-based products like steak, pizza, chicken tikka masala or beef bourguignon. These new developments will contribute to an improved gastronomic experience, for example, when sushi, ravioli, yakitori, ham, Camembert will also have convincing plant-based equivalents,” shares Benjamin Voiry, Head of Marketing Pea and New Proteins at Roquette

“In terms of volume growth of alt-protein, the biggest area will continue to be meat alternatives, as more and more people decide to eat less meat for health, environmental and animal welfare reasons. We are also starting to hear legislators talk about the need for a smaller animal protein industry, to help meet governments’ net zero commitments, and regulation would fuel growth further for the meat-free sector. However, I expect to see the fastest acceleration of growth in seafood and cheese alternatives, as the quality of these products improve, and we see more new businesses focussing on these categories,” explains Marco Bertacca, CEO, at Quorn Foods

Dairy Alternatives

“The greatest growth will be in dairy-alternatives. As more people care about dairy-farming practices, their awareness about animal abuse grows and they learn how nutritious plants are. There’s so much room to improve in taste for the current market alternatives (cheese, eggs, ice cream, milk) and that’s why at NotCo, we never sacrifice on taste,“ shares Matias Muchnick, CEO and Co-Founder at NotCo

“We believe offering consumers kinder, greener food options across multiple categories and touch points is a major first step towards achieving our vision to foster a more resilient, sustainable food system. That’s why we’re focused not only on introducing our first animal-free protein (whey) across traditional dairy applications, but also expanding our reach more broadly into unexpected products like salad dressings, baked goods, protein drinks, and beyond,” explains Ryan Pandya, Co-Founder and CEO at Perfect Day

Cheese Alternatives

“The area primed for growth within the alternative protein space is cheese, be it plant-based or lab-grown. As more consumers look to reduce the consumption of animal products, dairy-free cheese variants are improving in terms of texture and taste to accommodate these needs. Spoonshot’s data indicates that consumer interest in vegan/plant-based cheese has seen the sharpest surge in the last 12 months – doubling over the previous year,” outlines Kishan Vasani, Co-Founder and CEO at Spoonshot

“Cheese alternatives present the greatest growth potential in the US market. While the plant-based cheese market grew 42% in 2020, household penetration remains in low single digits, driven largely by ‘performance gap’ vs. conventional dairy cheese. The big unlock will come from introduction of animal-free cheese, which will incorporate real dairy proteins and fats produced via precision fermentation to deliver on taste expectations,” says Irina Gerry, CMO at Change Foods

Microbial Fermentation

“To accommodate the exploding population, a radical change in the way we think about protein production is ever more important.   Unlocking macro-nutrients at the micro-level is the only way forward to a sustainable future.  Microbial fermentation is the immediate solution which allows us to decouple protein supply from arable land while reducing the environmental footprint,” details Eugene Wang, Co-Founder and CEO at Sophie’s Bionutrients

“I am excited about the potential of fungi- and algae-derived proteins. It has been suggested that using microalgae could use less water and energy in production than using soy or pea, therefore it could make it possible to develop more sustainable alternative protein products,” adds Saaya Matsukubo, CMO at NextMeats

“I believe that the biggest category of growth will be through the application of fermentation technology to either improve the taste and quality of plant proteins or to produce new proteins. Fermentation offers many benefits in terms of sustainability and ability to scale up processes,” explains Carole Bingley, Senior Associate Principal Scientist at RSSL

“Nutreco is particularly excited by the potential of fermentation-based protein to address multiple food applications, especially as a high-volume platform to produce ingredients in a B2B model. This is where we expect the biggest growth over the coming years, as companies like Perfect Day, Clara Foods or Enough upscale their production and offer high-quality ingredients at reasonable costs to the food processing industry,” details Susanne Wiegel, Investment Manager Alternative Proteins at Nutreco

“Alternative protein is growing at breakneck speed. From anecdotal and quantitative information, it seems likely that the fermentation sector will continue to rapidly expand, given its versatility and existing infrastructure. We also predict that products outside of direct human consumption will see ample growth including pet foods and livestock feeds,” adds Rebecca Vaught, Founder at Van Heron Labs

Cell-Based

“In the coming decades, food production will be transformed by rapid growth in the alternative protein market. A key component of this is cultivated meat production. Pioneers in this area are currently addressing input ingredients and scaling challenges to bring cultivated meat products to consumers across the globe,” details Jacqui Matthews, Chief Scientific Officer at Roslin Technologies

“I believe we will see different categories growing faster in different regions, depending on the regulatory environment. For example, cell-based products will really proliferate in regions that are forward-thinking and have a more flexible regulatory framework (such as Singapore). However, I think cell-based products will see the biggest growth globally in the long-term,” shares Hannah Lester, CEO, Pen & Tec Consulting


Hybrid Meat

“Currently, plant-based chicken and seafood (especially whole muscle) are underdeveloped categories, and we expect to see significant growth and innovation within this area. The hybrid meat category will start to penetrate the market; blending plant-based ingredients with traditional animal fat or cultivated animal fat,” shares Subra Balakrishnan, Director Global Business Development at Nourish Ventures

Plant-Based Seafood

“Plant-based seafood is the next frontier and largest growth driver in the alternative protein sector. This category is relatively untapped, especially for raw and unprocessed formats. Demand for more sustainable seafood has skyrocketed due to general market trends and documentaries like Seaspiracy, demonstrating its vitality for our planet’s ecosystem,” explains Jacek Prus, Founder and CEO at Kuleana

“With 90% of wild fisheries categorized as overfished and expected demand for seafood predicted to increase 30% by 2030 it’s surprising that alternative seafood is a nascent industry. However, as practices in the conventional seafood industry are exposed and research into protein alternatives continues to advance, opportunities within the space are highlighted. This market white space, represented by the alternative seafood industry, will see significant forward momentum as increasing investment targets the sector,” shares Anne Palermo, Co-Founder and CEO at AquaCultured Foods

Pet Food

“Where animal-based meat has historically been the dominant ingredient in pet food, consumers are now demanding sustainable and humane options to feed not only themselves, but their cats and dogs, too. As far as relative numbers go, I suspect pet food will be among the largest growth sectors in the alternative protein sector over the next 2-3 years,” predicts Shannon Falconer, Co-Founder at Because Animals

International Flavors and Cuisines

“Alternative protein companies tend to focus on familiar flavors in dairy and meat alternatives, so there’s less of a barrier to entry for consumers. However, as the alt-protein space expands, we’re expecting to see significant growth in international flavors and cuisines. At Nature’s Fynd, we’re excited by the versatility of Fy, our nutritional fungi protein, that allows us to create a wide range of familiar and new global foods,” details Karuna Rawal, CMO at Nature’s Fynd

New Ingredients

“Alternative meat and dairy will continue to evolve and grow, we will see not just processing technologies drive this, but also new ingredients.  We are seeing a tidal wave of new ingredients that are challenging label declaration and consumer perception of what is dairy and what is meat.  This evolution will be continuous, and we are excited to have a portfolio that continues to push the boundaries to Be What’s Next in food,” reveals Mike Natale, Global Leader of Plant Based Proteins at Ingredion

“As consumers increasingly consume alternative proteins, the challenge to growing this segment is ensuring that healthier products don’t compromise smell, taste or experience. When ingredients are replaced with plant-based proteins, for example, a bitter taste or odor can be introduced. We help companies use olfactory and taste receptor data to solve these product problems,” explains Morgan Moncada, Director of Product and Operations at Aromyx

“As the world moves towards implementing more sustainable industries, we will see nutrition becoming the focus in the alternative protein sector to address grand challenges our world faces today, such as rising metabolic health diseases, malnutrition and antibiotic resistance. The focus on food as medicine will play a key role in tackling these challenges. The development of novel ingredients will require not only the optimization for taste and texture of the alternatives but will additionally provide significant health benefits to traditional protein sources,” adds Anthony Finbow, CEO, Eagle Genomics

Leisure Foods Service

“Undoubtedly the biggest area of growth in plant-based proteins is likely to be the leisure foods service sector.  Attendees at ballparks, stadiums and basketball courts love the convenience foods like chicken nuggets, patties and tenders that are currently made from chicken.  Enjoying the plant-based versions of these products, as our society gets back to leisure group activities, is a huge area of opportunity. Likewise, as climate change has come front and center in our lives, sales into the school lunch sector is also likely to grow fast as more climate-conscious young consumers populate public schools” shares Christie Lagally, Founder and CEO at Rebellyous Foods

Health Benefits

“Alternative proteins have moved from niche products to a mainstream lifestyle in the past few years, and alternative protein categories are all experiencing double digit growth. Yet, almost all those food & beverage categories could experience even higher growth if we could optimize the sensory and nutritional profile of many products in order to increase consumer adoption and penetration. This is why Danone is focusing on creating plant-based products that are craveable (taste, texture), nutritious and affordable. This requires a holistic development approach using new ingredients and new technologies. What we see today is just the beginning of the protein revolution,” says Takoua Debeche, Chief Research & Innovation Officer at Danone North America

“Key drivers of the alternative protein sector are the shifting consumer perception and health benefits associated with alternative protein, and demand is increasing due to their nutrient profile and lesser environmental impact. I see development opportunities embedded across the whole supply chain from raw materials, processing and formulation where ICL is a leading player to F&B consumer products,” shares Hadar Sutovsky, VP External Innovation & General Manager at ICL Planet

“Alternative proteins that possess a clean label and contribute positive health benefits are poised to dominate the next generation of plant-based proteins. Existing products on the marketplace have done an excellent job of mimicking meat, but consumers are going to want more than that moving forward,” adds Keith Seiz, Ingredient Marketing, California Walnut Commission

“Much of what we have seen over the last two to five years in this segment has been in the utilization of processing technologies optimized for animal protein production, hence meat-like. There is great opportunity to consider whether these equipment and processes are right for creating plant-protein formats outside of meat analogues. We must enable the protein processing industry to innovate technologies to ensure that we can develop highly nutritious offerings beyond meat-like,” shares Greg Meyers, Senior Innovation Manager at Nourish Ventures

Holistic Market, Room for All

“There are three areas across alternative that I think are going to experience massive growth: recombination/precision fermentation (current leaders include Perfect Day and Clara Foods), animal-free dairy (cheese in particular will boom, as plant-based cheeses, while there are many fantastic companies, are still not one-to-one equivalent with the cow/goat/sheep dairy versions) and cellular agriculture, a sector gaining huge traction, with more and more seafood start-ups coming out of the woodwork given the renewed attention on the many ills of commercial fishing,” explains Sonalie Figueiras, Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Green Queen Media

“There are three successive waves of trillion-dollar growth happening now in alternative protein: plant-based protein substitutions, bioreactor-grown protein farming, and cellular agriculture. These waves will grow and crest separately, but all will provide massive growth for the next 20 years, and in 50 years will combine to replace 90% of animal-farmed products,” details Sean O’Sullivan, General Managing Partner at SOSV

“Over the next five years the plant-based meat category will see the biggest growth as earlier stage companies refine their supply chain and logistics and traditional food manufacturers increase their interest and investment.  Concurrently, we will see growth in products being manufactured via fermentation, particularly fungi (mycoprotein) and algae.  Cultured/cell-based meat, seafood, and even plants will be a future growth area and may represent the largest growth opportunity,” shares David Ziskind, Director of Engineering NextGen Ag at Black & Veatch

“Over half of global plant consumers are trying to eat more plant-based offerings1, and they’re seeking emerging options that go beyond the bun. Ripe for growth are advancements in dairy alternatives, whole-muscle meat alternatives and specialized nutrition. Expect technologies like 3D and fermentation to push these categories and the plant-based space forward through inventive ingenuity,” says Leticia Goncalves, President, Global Foods, ADM

“Many alt-protein approaches seem exciting, but ultimately what is the fundamental end goal for the future of food? In addition to health and sustainability, we must do better for all stakeholders — workers, consumers, planet, and animals – and must consider the impacts to all while we develop new solutions” concludes Miyoko Schinner, Founder at Miyoko’s Creamery

At Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins on June 22-23, 1000+ key industry players across the sector will unite to drive forward scalable, sustainable solutions to transform the future of food.

Full conference agenda, speakers and delegate registration are available at www.futurefoodtechprotein.com/register

The early bird offer ends May 7

1ADM Outside VoiceSM