Meat alternatives set to grow in popularity

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Worldwide growth in red meat consumption is unsustainable
Worldwide growth in red meat consumption is unsustainable

Related tags Agriculture

Increased global demand for meat will force food manufacturers to find innovative ways of using less but better meat or meat substitutes in their products, industry experts have predicted.

The world’s food industry will struggle to find the resources to feed the 9.6bn people expected to inhabit the globe by 2050, they warn.

“We need to look at ways of using less and better meat for high-meat consuming countries,” ​said Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council.

Impossible to sustain levels

It was impossible to sustain the high levels of meat consumption in countries such as the UK and the US, he said at the launch of a farm animal welfare report to celebrate 20 years of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ farm animal welfare scheme, Freedom Food, last month. Because of confusion among consumers, the Freedom Food label is being renamed ‘RSPCA Assured’.

But, neither was it enough to focus on reducing meat consumption in the western world, as in the past 30 years, countries such as China had quadrupled their intake of meat, Crossley said. “Countries like China are going to have a massive impact on the production of meat across the world,”​ he added.

Food manufacturers had an important role to play in reducing the amount of meat consumed, urged Jemima Jewell, head of food business at Compassion in World Farming. Continued pressure on manufacturers to produce more meat was not sustainable for the industry, livestock or consumers, she added.


There were lots of different ways manufacturers could drive the ‘less but better meat’ agenda and looking at the role meat alternatives could play in meat-containing products was one of them, she claimed. “There are lots of companies investigating this and it’s encouraging Ikea is looking to drive a vegetable protein form of its iconic meatballs,”​ Jewell added.

Jonny Bingham and David Jones, the former Bakkavor and Greencore rivals who recently set up their own ready meal consultancy, have recognised the opportunity for meat alternatives. “We are going to be leading an open day at the University of Nottingham soon to show the versatility of sustainable ingredients,”​ they said.

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