The food industry faces its fair share of challenges over the next decade and it is certainly difficult to imagine what it will look like in 2030, according to a new report.
In "The Future of Food & Drink 2030," a World Global Style Network report, Jennifer Creevy, Claire Lancaster and Andrea Bell wrote that the food and beverage industry is resilient and "will always rise to the situation."
Why Now: Demand for plant-based protein alternatives is growing because people are demanding healthier and more sustainable alternatives, Kara Neilsen, director of food and drink at the forecasting firm WGSN, told Benzinga in an e-mail.
Consumers are attracted to plant-based products that satisfy their wants while simultaneously offering a product that is similar in taste and texture with animal meat.
Traditional Meat Companies Enter The Space: Publicly traded Beyond Meat Inc (NASDAQ: BYND) and privately owned rival Impossible Foods are among the few plant-based food makers with existing retail distribution. They are also among the few with large-scale and global production distribution agreements, especially in China.
"Leading players such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat will continue to gain growth, but many others will have joined the fray by then, alongside growth from other protein areas such as insects," she said.
Plant-Based Food As A Complement: Plant-based food makers are focused on gaining market share from traditional meat eaters, rather than just vegans and vegetarians.
In fact, the majority of plant-based food buyers are those looking for the meat alternative product to be a complement, rather than a full replacement, Neilsen said.
Meat will always be considered as a "specialism and a treat," with meat eaters mostly looking toward locally sourced and locally grown items, she said.
Here are some of WGSN's takeaways on innovative plant-based food companies.
5 Key Themes From The Report: Over the next decade, the five key themes that will drive change in the food and beverage industry are:
Wellness: Food will be prioritized as a source of health and wellness.
People: Continued population growth will create a plethora of new food and drink ideas that will cater to different generations.
Planet: Environmentally conscious food companies will focus on engineered foods and new proteins.
Experiences: Molecular gastronomy, artificial intelligence advances and immersive experiences will guarantee the food industry is "as innovative as ever."
Demand From Growing Middle Class: Pork is the most consumed meat in the Chinese market, and a surge of growth in the country's middle class could present challenges, WGSN said.
The Chinese government already inked a $300-million trade agreement with Israel to import cellular meats produced by three companies: SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies and Meat the Future.
Plants, AI To Promote Health: The future of food will focus more on how plants can be used to make food more functional, the report said.
One such example is San Francisco-based Brightseed. The biotech company uses artificial intelligence to scan decades worth of biomedical research to identify the most useful and beneficial phytonutrients from plants and link them to health targets.
The company plans to launch its first product in late 2020, but continues to actively research natural plant compounds that address health benefits related to immunity, cognition and digestion, according to WGSN.
"Such innovations will be prevalent by 2030 but smart brands are allocating current R+D budget to stay ahead of this future growth opportunity."
Another plant-based food maker embracing health trends include Miraculex. The California-based company uses plant and fermentation technologies to make food sweet without sugar and its negative health impact.
Indoor Farming: Locally sourced food will be a "necessity" in 2030, and one of the ways to address this challenge is through indoor or in-store farming projects.
The United Arab Emirates is home to one of the most ambitious local sourcing projects in the world. The government allocated $100 million to four agriculture tech companies to become self-sufficient, as 80% of the country's food is imported.
One of the companies, AeroFarms, will build a 90,000-square-foot indoor vertical form in the Gulf state.
"Our mission is to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity, and this new cutting-edge R&D facility leverages our agriculture expertise and science-driven roots," David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms, said in a press release.
"We will be conducting leading research in plant science, vertical farming, and automation, accelerating innovation cycles and commercializing a diverse range of products."
Farming To 'Ferming': All farming — aside from fruits and vegetables — can be replaced with "ferming," or the process of making food without fermentation, according to WGSN.
By 2030, protein could be produced by combining air, CO2, water, electricity and precision fermenting in tanks.
The products could be 10 times cheaper than animal protein.
Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat.
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