Speaking at last month’s Global Meat News’ conference ‘The future of plant-based proteins’, Mills told delegates: “We’ve all got great products out there and there’s more innovation going on, but it’s scales. There need to be massive factories for where this market movement is going – it’s not a trend, it’s a movement.
The weakest link
“That’s where the weakest link is in most of the companies at the moment, even in the meat and dairy areas. And because the laws are changing next year, you won’t be able to make a meat, fish or dairy alternative in a mixed facility, due to the recent deaths and allergy problems that have gone on with cross contamination. It’s very important that anybody from any sector looks into manufacturing facilities.”
Laith Wahbi, global technical director of the savoury business unit at flavours developer Firmenich, echoed Mills’ concerns over the lack of infrastructure to support the evolving plant-based protein trend. “There is an acceleration of innovation as well,” he added. “If we’re not careful we’ll have a strained supply chain where we won’t be able to deliver.”
Need for diversification
Mills also advised suppliers operating within the meat alternatives market to diversify their pool of ingredients and not rely on just pea and soy protein as the easier options, adding should problems arise with supply of these ingredients, the company wouldn’t be able to manufacture.
“It’s better to work with at least 40-odd plants than just rely on pea protein or soy protein,” Mills concluded.
Meanwhile, Mills has invested in Florida-based supermarket Vegan Fine Foods for an undisclosed sum. It followed a string of investments by Mills, including the purchase of her third food factory in April and a stake in healthy vegan start-up Onist the same month.