The global phenomenon of alternative proteins

Sustainable food solutions are among the most discussed topics in the contemporary global food industry, focus on new protein sources. Disruptive protein technology and the market for sustainable food solutions are growing at a rapid pace.

“To be part of tomorrow’s food solution” is the aim of the international forum New Food Conference Berlin on 28-29 April, in which Iñigo Charola, CEO of our parent company BioTech Foods, is participating. The New Food Conference is an industry-oriented event that aims to accelerate and promote these innovative food technologies by bringing together the best players in the sector.

The virtual event is organized by ProVeg, an international food awareness organization based on four continents and active in more than 20 countries. ProVeg works with businesses, governments, public institutions, scientific professionals, and the general public to promote the transition to an animal-free society and economy that is sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet. Among its challenges: To reduce global animal consumption by 50% by 2040.

Considered Europe’s largest conference on new protein solutions, the New Food Conference Berlin is a great opportunity to establish synergies with key players in the food industry. It is a pioneering conference in Europe with the participation of prominent leaders in the field of plant- and cell-based proteins, which makes it the perfect platform for publicizing projects aimed at providing innovative food solutions, such as cultured meat, which Ethicameat has been working on since 2017.

As ProVeg recalls, the 2019 edition of the New Food Conference was the first international event in Europe to bring together leading innovators in the fields of plant products and cultured animal products. A knowledge-sharing platform where, once again this year, a wide range of topics will be discussed (see the full program here). From the priorities and forecasts for investment in the future of food to the round table: ‘Cellular agriculture: is commercialization just around the corner’, in which our CEO, Iñigo Charola, will take part.

The forum promoted by ProVeg is, therefore, a unique opportunity not only to accelerate innovative food technologies but also to discuss relevant aspects such as consumer acceptance, dissemination in the media, and public awareness of the opportunities offered by alternative proteins in the face of global problems such as climate change or world food supply. Consumer demand and tastes are changing faster than ever before as awareness of nutrition and environmental impacts grow.

The vegan shopping basket, a more ‘eco’ world

Much of Spanish consumption has been influenced by the emergence of a new global ethic that puts the welfare of animals and nature ahead of price or trends. In this sense, there has been a real boom in the natural, ecological, and vegan. From toothpaste to meat without animal sacrifice: the future of the shopping basket is ‘eco’.

New consumer demands for environmental sustainability have led to a paradigm shift in the production of goods and services. The trend towards vegan products is a reality that is gradually taking hold in Spain. In our country, 7.8% of the population declare themselves “veggie”, almost four million people. In this broad term converge vegans (people who do not consume any products of animal origin), vegetarians (people who consume mostly products of vegetable origin and occasionally some products of animal origin such as eggs, milk or honey) and flexitarians (people who in their diet give preference to products of vegetable origin occasionally consuming meat, seafood or fish).

We analyze below some of the reasons why it is estimated that this market will reach more than 4,400 million euros in 2020, to supply the almost 500 million ‘veggies’ in the world, approximately 6.6% of the world’s population.

Veggie trend, beyond a fad

According to data from The Green Revolution, a report produced by the consultancy firm Lantern in 2019, the reasons why the so-called “veggies” are betting on this type of product are based on three very definite reasons: for ethical and animalistic sensitivity, for the sustainability of the planet and health. Their weight is such that together they have motivated a notable increase in this type of product in recent years, making the “veggie” market a rising novelty for companies not only in the food sector, but also in the textile, cosmetic and all other sectors.

The profile of this type of consumer is a clue as to where this growing demand for goods and services is focused, since 51.2% of vegetarian and vegan consumers live in large cities. Moreover, they tend to be mostly women, more than 65% of a new generation whose commitment to animal welfare pushes them to choose products of plant origin in their daily lives and, in many cases, to adopt veganism as a philosophy of life.

With this growing trend towards products that are more committed to animal welfare, we find a market share with a power of attraction that is beginning to attract the attention of companies all over the world, from large multinationals to small companies that have seen in this change of priorities in the consumption of goods and services the door to a new production model based on environmental sustainability. Many products seek to satisfy these new market demands, from vegan toothpaste to wooden toys produced without chemicals. There is a wide spectrum of needs to be covered from the “veggie” side, but how do you recognize a product that meets the vegan commitment?

Vegan stamps, authenticity versus fashion

Vegan product certifications are in full swing due to the sustainability boom and its impact on the marketing world. Many companies have signed up to this sustainable trend, but how do you differentiate between “greenwashing” and a real vegan product? 

Although there is currently no official approval for the use of the term ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ on the labeling of products sold in this way in the EU, the consumer finds a useful tool in several quality seals or certificates. These labels are endorsed by experts who certify whether a product is truly vegan or just responds to a marketing strategy to attract the consumer. This information is usually included in the product packaging or labels, making it easy to identify at a glance.

The best known within the EU is the V-LABEL, with more than 10,000 products and services tested and a presence in 27 countries, but there are others around the world such as the Vegan seal in the UK, the Vegan seal in Latin America or the Certified Vegan (Vegan.org), from the United States.

Ethicameat’s commitment

Awareness of animal welfare is growing in our society. And this is precisely one of the commitments that drive Ethicameat’s innovative project: the production of sustainably grown meat, without animal sacrifice, high in protein, and without antibiotics. We believe that the choice to consume meat must also mean respect for animal life and care for the environment today.