Although ADM is not a company specializing in the management of alternative proteins, with its huge scale and deep involvement in every link of the agri-food value chain, it will inevitably influence and guide the expansion rate of the food industry in the future.
ADM has just released its 2022 outlook for the alternative protein space, which highlights 7 trends that will have a big impact in 2022.
The company sees the following trends:
1. New protein sources, from cell cultures to fungi and air proteins
2. The arrival of the Fermentation-as-a-Service (FAAS) business model
3. Next Generation Plant-Based Whole Muscle Solutions
4. Innovation and Transparency from Seed to Fork
5. Reduced cost of cell cultured meat products
6. The rise of kid-friendly products
7. Plant-based traditional specialties
Regarding the outlook for the alternative protein sector in 2022, Leticia Gonçalves, president of global food and ingredients at ADM, also expressed her views on alternative protein industry trends in the coming year.
From cell culture to fungi to the introduction of air proteins, Leticia Gonçalves believes that all these technologies are in the development stage. It's not just cell culture proteins, fungal proteins and air proteins, but also vegetable protein solutions. Plant protein is no longer limited to soy, and includes technologies such as pea protein, chickpeas, sunflower, and even pinto beans. Those new companies with next-generation protein extraction technology are bringing new products to market very quickly.
This trend is not just investments in new food tech startups, but many agri-food businesses, including big companies like ADM, are investing in these technologies. This is not only to help address technical needs, but to ensure that these new technologies are also feasible in terms of scalability and cost to make them successful in the market.
We are seeing growing industry interest in microbial fermentation, especially as a new way to develop alternative protein products. According to Leticia Gonçalves, president of global food and ingredients at ADM, ADM has also been expanding its fermentation capacity and innovating in new models of serving food, beverage and wellness brands, supporting companies and brands in these areas, especially for processing, experimental In-room services, as well as consultation on food-grade fermentation processes. So it's not just new technology, it's also linking ADM with processing, laboratory services and even fermentation services and applying those technologies to the final product, so a broader "fermentation-as-a-service" business model may be on the horizon.
There's a lot of technology going on in the plant-based meat space, and some of those companies are investing in recreating the whole muscle of an animal, from T-bone steaks to shellfish to chicken nuggets. Next-generation plant-based full-muscle solutions have emerged in the industry, with not only great progress in blending plant-based and cell-cultured meats, but also other texture materials and scaffolding technologies that can help bring full-muscle into plant-based meat products texture. This is not just a technical solution, but often all the different solutions need to be combined to create the desired product texture.
Now that there are many plant-based chicken nuggets or meatballs on the market, what new trends are there other than plant-based whole muscle? Kid-friendly plant-based meat products are on the rise, according to Leticia Gonçalves. Depending on the age of the child, from yogurt to pizza, from macaroni to cheese, the food industry has developed different forms of products that incorporate more nutritional concepts into ready-to-eat meals. So these are the expectations of the industry and consumers to develop more alternative protein products suitable for children in the future.
Regarding seed-to-fork innovation and transparency, Leticia Gonçalves pointed out that since the outbreak of the pandemic, consumers have become more interested in knowing where their food comes from, how to protect animal welfare, and how to better contribute to climate solutions. A key part of the entire agri-food value chain is to actually reduce costs by improving seeds for better nutritional content. Starting with seeds with higher protein content, better taste, and better color will not only improve clarity but also yield, all of which will contribute to a better product.
In addition to participating in the plant protein industry, ADM has also been looking for effective cell cultured meat solutions. According to Leticia Gonçalves, the size and price of the cell-cultured meat space are closely related, and the key is how to drive down costs to scale to ensure that it is closer to the price point consumers are willing to pay. For example, the price of cell-cultured chicken breast from Israel's Future Meat Technologies is only $7.70 a pound, down from $18 six months ago. While that's a huge improvement for a company in half a year, it's still small. This is an evolutionary process, and more progress is needed in the field to make cell-cultured meat a viable business plan and scalable technology.
Overall, ADM believes that concerns about sustainably feeding a growing global population and increased consumer demand for healthy dietary solutions are driving alternative proteins into the mainstream. In the last year alone, the market has seen an array of plant-based meat, plant-based cheese and dairy alternatives to choose from; consumers have more than doubled. So, going forward, the rapid growth of the alternative protein market is expected to continue.