“The quick answer is, it's still a long way off,” Hutchinson lamented. “The kind of infrastructure that's needed to create these alternative protein products isn't quite there yet at the scale that's needed.
The global financial situation has also had a major impact on alternative proteins, with consumers hesitant to embrace these products due to the implied ‘green premium’ pushing up the price and making them less affordable.
“The products aren't quite matching the price of the meat and dairy products they're looking to replace or provide an alternative to,” he continued. “Once we have the facilities to begin producing on a much, much larger scale then the economics of scale do kick in and we'll be seeing these products cheaper.
“But at the moment, that's quite a key issue – it's such a large capital investment that's needed to produce the large vessels needed for the biomass fermentation processes. And because this is all very new technology mostly being made from scratch, time is needed for the manufacturing industry to get to that level where we can achieve price parity [with meat] from scaling.”
The other key factor holding back the rise of alternative proteins was that some consumers don’t think they taste good. This, and concerns over the safety of meat alternatives, were key observations by Dr Kang Lan Tee.
“For the alternative food to become widely accepted as a norm, I think the taste has to be something that needs to catch up with what we are familiar with and what we have always been eating,” she explained.
Educating the public
“With respect to safety, I think a lot of it is down to public engagement and education. If people do not understand how this is being produced, they're unwilling to try it – we are all a bit worried when we encounter unfamiliar things.
“It's important to educate the public about how alternatives are being produced and the effort that has gone into looking at regulations into making it safe, what type of standards are being used.”
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out part one of our exclusive interview with the duo behind ReNewFood.