Global Growth in Plant-Based Protein Market
The global plant-based protein market is forecast to grow from $5.9 billion to a whopping $8.9 billion by 2025 (a CAGR of 8.5%).1 Consumer awareness is increasing regarding how food choices can impact health, environmental sustainability, and even food security. The recent high growth in plant-based protein products has been driven not by vegan consumers but by mainstream consumers interested in making healthier, more sustainable choices. This flexitarian mindset is impacting products from plant-based meats to plant-based protein bars.
Here’s a look at the top trends in plant-based proteins for 2021:
1. New Plant-Based Proteins
From soy to pea to mung bean, plant-based protein options continue to expand, with research underway in both the private and public sectors. While legumes (such as chickpea, lentil, and lupin) and seeds (such as sunflower, chia, and flax seeds) remain top choices due to their naturally high protein content, certain grains, mushrooms, and seaweeds are also being investigated as protein sources. Cost-effectiveness, availability, and sustainability will determine the plant proteins of the future, as well as functionalities such as gelling, emulsification, and extrudability for plant-based meat applications.
2. Government Support for Plant Proteins
The buzz around plant-based proteins has surged due to their potential role in feeding the growing global population more sustainably. However, this interest has been largely in the realm of consumers, food companies, and the agricultural supply chain. Now, some governments are stepping up, providing agricultural and research funding for potential proteins of the future. Examples include Canada’s support in developing the canola protein industry and India’s interest in native millets as a protein source.
3. Extra Functionalities
In isolating plant-based proteins, the goal has traditionally been to achieve the highest protein concentration possible and minimize the presence of other components like starches, fibers, and fats. But with the rise of plant-based meats, eggs, and dairy alternative products, additional components might actually be welcome, provided they offer a needed functionality. One exciting example is protein ingredients sourced from algae or seaweed that provide not just protein but functional polysaccharides for binding, healthy DHA omega-3s, and a fishy flavor that's perfect for plant-based seafood.