Meat alternatives part of a changing market

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Jenne BrammerCountryman
Deborah Perkins
Camera IconDeborah Perkins

Demand for alternatives to meat will grow worldwide but will remain a small portion of overall consumption, ING global head of food and agribusiness Deborah Perkins will tell farmers at a conference in Perth this week.

She will share her insights with farmers at the WAFarmers annual conference “Trending Ag” on Friday, about the food and agriculture supply chain, from production and cultivation of food to processing, distribution/retail models and changing customer preferences.

Ms Perkins grew up on a farm at Bruce Rock in the eastern Wheatbelt, has worked with global leaders in the agriculture industry and is now based in the US city of Dallas.

She said a big consumer trend was the move towards alternative proteins.

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In Europe there was a strong trend away from meat and in the US there was the Meatless Monday movement, aiming to cut out meat one day a week, Ms Perkins said.

She said it was not just demand from vegans for alternative proteins. Some people chose to reduce meat consumption for other reasons, such as for health.

“Alternatives like (laboratory) grown meat are still a very small portion of the market but they will continue to grow. New products are coming to the market and quality is improving.”

Ms Perkins said as a result of this growth, big meat companies were investing in alternatives to get a better understanding of the trend.

For example, US-based meat giant Tyson Foods, had invested in up and coming alternative protein companies, partly because it wanted to understand what is happening in that space.

On the flipside, Ms Perkins said in many areas there was still strong demand for meat, for example, in China and South-East Asia, where consumption was increasing as incomes grew.

She plans to share insights on the leaps forward in agri-commerce, technology, research and development, and the need to optimise output to satisfy the evolving markets in China, Indonesia and Eastern Europe.

“Countries that were once considered to be developing, now have diverse and expanding appetites for commodities to match their consumers’ changing tastes, which is forcing food companies to adapt and innovate their marketing and product offerings,” she said.

She said this trend meant WA farmers faced a “Kodak moment” and had to adapt to survive.

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