Alternative protein sources

Total demand and environmental savings is expected to reach $12 billion by 2030 at around 5% per annum growth.

Titled: Alternative protein sources

In 2018

  • Domestic consumption: $2.2 billion
  • Export opportunity: $1.5 billion
  • Environmental savings: $3.1 billion

In 2030

  • Domestic consumption: $4.1 billion
  • Export opportunity: $2.5 billion
  • Environmental savings: $5.4 billion

Alternative protein sources

Alternative proteins describe foods that are consumed as substitutes to meat and seafood as part of an individual’s diet. This includes plant proteins such as soy and pea, hemp seed and ancient grains such as quinoa, and emerging products such as insect-based ingredients and meat products produced in vitro.

Ethical, cultural, religious, environmental and dietary factors are expected to increase consumer demand for alternative protein sources over the next decade. The percentage of Australians that are vegetarian or eat predominantly vegetarian foods has risen from 10% in 2012 to 11% in 2016. Similarly, other major export partners exhibit significant demand for alternative proteins. For instance, about 30% of India’s population are estimated to be vegetarian. Based on current demographic and consumer trends, CSIRO analysis estimates that the domestic and export opportunity for alternative proteins could reach $4.1 billion and $2.5 billion respectively by 2030.

Research estimates that meat and dairy production accounts for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture, and that even low-impact meat and dairy products are likely to cause more environmental harm than sustainably farmed vegetables. CSIRO analysis estimates that consumption of alternative proteins may create an additional $5.4 billion in carbon emission and water savings annually by 2030. Although not quantified in this report, significant savings in net land use could also be expected from increased consumption of alternative proteins over traditional livestock products. In 2016-17, Australian livestock products required twelve times more land for production than crop products per dollar of commodity produced. Noting that around half of marginal agricultural land in Australia’s intensive use zone can be used profitably for carbon sequestered forests, the Australian National Outlook 2019 identified carbon plantations and farming as a significant environmental and economic opportunity (in the form of sequestration exports) for Australia. Land use saved through alternative proteins could help to open such opportunities by 2030 or beyond.

See full report for methodology and references.