Sales of plant-based protein in Australia nearly doubled in 2020, as a third of the country limit their meat consumption, according to a new report.
The plant-based protein industry underwent massive growth in Australia in 2020, with a 46% rise in sales as more and more Australians take a more plant-based approach to their diet.
Food Frontier’s 2020 State of the Industry report, commissioned by Deloitte Access Economics, found that apart from sales, manufacturing revenue, workforce and number of retail products also doubled. Deloitte said that a third of Australians are limiting their meat consumption, which partly explains the reason behind this growth.
Food Frontier added that plant-based meat promises the greatest immediate potential and commercial opportunity in the alt-protein category, with record investment attributed to an increasing awareness about its economic and societal benefits as well as its role in feeding the future.
In December 2020, Australia’s plant-based meat industry comprised 22 companies, doubling from 2019’s 11. Between those years, the volume of vegan meat manufacturing in Australia increased by 70%, with companies pushing for a greater use of local ingredients in their products.
The report said that the value to the Australian farming sector’s crops like pulses and legumes to the alt-meat industry is becoming more recognised. But local plant protein processing infrastructure needs significant investment to cater to the growing demand.
Noting that Australian plant-based meat is lower-priced than imported counterparts — around A$3.50 (£1.95) less per kg, Food Frontier called it an encouraging sign that the increased available of local products is helping bring down prices.
The report also found that a very high proportion of plant-based meat is not being purchased before use-by dates and thus going to waste, adding that while placing it in the regular meat aisle has been successful, the shorter shelf life has to be taken into consideration.
Employment also increased in the sector, with a 106% rise in workers. The direct full-time equivalent roles rose by 137% to 246 workers, with an additional 301 making up the indirect ones (an 87% increase). The industry also saw a higher number of production workers employed, reflected by the drop in average wages from AU$94,000 to AU$73,000 (£52,293 to £40,611).
Food Frontier CEO Thomas King said: “Australia can build a multibillion-dollar plant-based meat industry, enabling our food businesses and farmers to capitalise on fast-growing global demand for alternative proteins.
“Australia has the agricultural capacity, commercial appetite and research knowhow to become an international leader in new protein industries including plant-based meat. To not make the early investments necessary to leverage these unique strengths would be a missed opportunity.”