Retrofit your factory to satisfy demand for plant-based meat

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Manufacturers can pivot produiction to allow for tyhe manufactuer of plant-based meat. Image: Getty, Monty Rakusen
Manufacturers can pivot produiction to allow for tyhe manufactuer of plant-based meat. Image: Getty, Monty Rakusen

Related tags plant based

Plant-based meat manufacturers should reuse equipment and buildings built for other parts of the industry in order to scale up production and meet future demand, according to a new report.

The report, Plant-based Meat Manufacturing Capacity and Pathways for Expansion​, released today by the Good Food Institute and Bright Green Partners claimed retrofitting existing systems would enable manufacturers to expand capacity in days or months – compared with up to three years to build a new plant and at 20% of the cost.

Producers of foods such as breakfast cereals and dry snacks could pivot their facilities to manufacture the raw ingredients of plant-based foods, while conventional meat processing plants could be turned into facilities used for later stages of production.

Opportunities outside of plant-based

Retrofitting can also enable other industries to enter the market using existing infrastructure. One example given was Dutch meat processor Vion, which converted a beef processing facility to manufacturer plant-based food.

Carlotte Lucas, senior corporate engagement manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Europe is one of the world’s biggest markets for plant-based meat, but with even a moderate increase in demand likely to exhaust manufacturing capacity, this report provides businesses and governments with a roadmap for the future.

“Reusing existing buildings and equipment is a feasible and affordable way of making sure companies can scale up quickly, ensuring Europe does not miss out on the huge opportunities presented by this sustainable food.”

The Plant-based Meat Manufacturing Capacity and Pathways for Expansion ​report estimated production plants around the world were able to produce around 2.2 million metric tons of plant-based meat last year, with 41% of this capacity in Europe, followed by North America at 34%.

Using capacity

Although current capacity is well-used, even moderate growth in the market could mean the industry wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand. NielsenIQ data analysed by GFI Europe found retail sales of plant-based meat across 13 European countries grew by 19% to over €2bn between 2020 and 2022.

Floor Buitelaar, Managing Partner at Bright Green Partners, said: “Limited capacity and substantial capital requirements hinder the future growth of the plant-based meat industry. Our study offers critical guidance, empowering decision-makers to make informed choices regarding capacity, capital, and strategies to limit investments.

“Spare plant-based meat manufacturing capacity will likely be used up by 2026, making retrofitting a very attractive capital-efficient option to quickly scale capacity.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Aberystwyth are contributing to a £12m project to produce sustainable alternative proteins.

Related topics Plant-Based Operations

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