The Protein Transformation: Which industries are affected?

The trend towards an animal-free diet is becoming stronger and stronger. New industries and networks are emerging. What consequences does this have for producers, retailers and consumers? Find out in the GDI overview "The Protein Transformation: Pathways to an Animal-Free Diet".
5 December, 2022 by
The Protein Transformation: Which industries are affected?
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

Die Proteinwende

The Protein Transformation

Animal proteins do not have to disappear completely from our diet to ensure a sustainable food system. There will continue to be wildlife populations that need to be regulated and land that can only be meaningfully managed with animals – if it needs to be managed at all.

But even if we do not go completely animal-free in 2050, this does not change the fact that the current food system and our consumption habits are no longer sustainable. It is, therefore, undisputed that we have to get out of resource-intensive conventional animal production and rely on alternative protein sources. What is open today, however, is the question of when and how.

It is worth thinking about this. Those who deal with the developments in the market in good time will not be surprised by the future and, if necessary, can help to shape the change instead of simply following the established paths. So what does a majority animal-free diet mean for the different areas of the food system? Where will the biggest changes take place?

Most of the movement will take place in the "back end" of the food system. In production and processing, for example, completely new value-added networks are emerging. Microbes, cell cultures and plant proteins are replacing the farm animals of today. New technologies and machines are being used to produce and process alternative proteins.

There will also be changes in logistics and distribution, as well as in recycling because many of the new products are pre-portioned and packaged. There will also be no more animal transport but more and partly new packaging forms and materials. Overall, however, the changes here will not be quite as profound: it is still a matter of making goods available at the right place at the right time and closing cycles.

The "front end" of the food system, i.e. retailers, restaurateurs and consumers, is likely to see the least change. The majority of fish and meat counters will disappear. Otherwise, however, the same product categories will continue to be sold and eaten for the foreseeable future, i.e. meat, sausage, fish, cheese, milk, yoghurt or eggs. It's just that these products will be produced with new methods and from different raw materials. This development is already very visible on the dairy shelf. There, organic cow's milk, skimmed milk, and lactose-free milk stand next to soy, oat, almond or coconut drinks. "Original" and "substitute" are also so similar that it is difficult to distinguish them at first glance.

This development will also take place with meat and fish. Today, plant-based "meat products" are mostly still close to tofu, seitan and tempeh. But once cultured meat is on the shelf at the latest, the boundaries between conventional and alternative proteins will become even more blurred, and it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between them.

Which protein alternative will prevail in the end? Which industry will emerge as the winner in the battle for market share, consumer acceptance, investor money and supermarket shelf space? Find out more in the cost-free GDI overview "The Protein Transformation: Pathways to an Animal-Free Die". Download now!

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