Cross-party think tank, the Social Market Foundation (SMF), collated a range of expert predictions for the study, producing an average estimate that alternative proteins – which include plant-based, cultivated meat and fermented products – would capture 32% of the UK market for meat in 2040.
According to the SMF, such a shift could save more than 300 million animals from slaughter every year, in addition to potential benefits to human health and the environment.
Estimates ranged from 3% to 70%, indicating the uncertainty that remains over the future of the alternative proteins market going forward. Meanwhile, analysis by the SMF suggests that improvements in the production of cultivated meat at mass scale will play an important role, with the average estimate for the future alternative protein market falling to 14% if such advancements are not made.
Aveek Bhattacharya, interim director at the SMF, said that alternative proteins have “enormous” potential benefits, but delivering on this promise depends on “exciting new technologies”.
“Plant-based alternatives have already gained a good foothold in many people’s diets, but they need refinement and improvement if they are to fundamentally disrupt the meat industry,” Bhattacharya continued.
“Cultivated meat could be a game changer, but at this stage it is hard to know whether it will turn out like solar power – widely adopted and affordable – or like nuclear fusion – always tantalisingly just out of reach. The Government should ensure regulation does not smother the industry, and can support it with judicious investment.”
Gemma Hope, assistant director of policy for advocacy and evidence at the RSPCA, added: “We ultimately want to see an end to intensive farming and alternative proteins offer huge opportunities to move towards this and change the lives of animals. We know that alternative proteins are better for the planet, can be better for our health and they are better for animals but we need government and industry to have the will to invest and support development of this market to make these changes a reality.”