Consumer demand for plant-based meat products in Australia rose "exponentially" over the past year, according to a new report from Food Frontier.
The report found that retail sales of herbal products grew 46% in the year through June 2020. The number of new jobs in the sector has more than doubled (106% growth) and manufacturing revenues rose from $ 35 million to nearly $ 70 million.
In addition, the report shows that national retailers doubled the number of plant-based meat products on Australian grocery shelves to over 200 in the past year. This expansion of the product range for vegetable-based meat, according to Food Frontier, takes into account the growing interest of consumers, as shown by a third of the Australians surveyed who limit their meat consumption.
Growing demand for meat alternatives, largely driven by health concerns, is expected to continue to rise after the pandemic, according to the report.
At the same time, global investments in vegetable meat in 2020 reflected this increasing demand. According to Food Frontier, $ 1.5 billion has been "poured in" by international meat and FMCG giants, governments and venture capitalists.
Deloitte Access Economics' 2019 modeling for Food Frontier predicted that consumer sales in the Australian meat sector could reach $ 3 billion annually by 2030 from $ 185 million in FY 20 and create over 6,000 new jobs.
However, Thomas King, CEO of Food Frontier, says governments at all levels need to support investment in research and development and infrastructure for emerging industries as well as demonstrably sound regulations to ensure a level playing field for new entrants.
"With the right political will, Australia can build a multi-billion dollar plant-based meat industry that will enable our food businesses and farmers to capitalize on the fast-growing global demand for alternative proteins," he says.
“Australia's vegetable meat companies have export opportunities in mind and will be closely monitoring overseas demand trends, while some, including Fable Food Co, Fenn Foods and v2food, have already launched in Singapore, Japan, Korea and other Asian markets.
“Australia has the agricultural capacity, commercial appetite and research expertise to become the international leader in emerging protein industries, including plant-based meat. It would be a missed opportunity not to make the early investments necessary to capitalize on these unique strengths. "