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Alternative Proteins
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

3.3.2Alternative Proteins

Although protein is almost never the sole source of nutrients in a diet, the impact of farming non-sustainable and ethically questionable protein sources is one that must be addressed. For reasons that range from health concerns to worries over animal welfare and the environmental impact of animal husbandry, the uptake of alternative proteins is already growing, particularly in wealthier countries with mature markets and an emphasis on consumer choice.9

These proteins come in many forms, with ingredients sourced from algae, plants (such as pulses, soy and pea), fungi (mycoprotein), insects (such as crickets), or cell-cultured meat typically designed to mimic chicken or beef. Plant-based options are currently the most accepted by consumers10, but there are other options — including proteins from outside the food chain. Cultured meat remains a young field, with relatively expensive products. However, ongoing investments, improvements and scale-up of the technology will create greater value and impact in the coming decades.

Concerns remain, however, that the organisations pioneering cultured meat may develop monopolies in the market.11 In addition, if cultured meat production were to scale up enormously, there are unanswered questions about unanticipated environmental impacts. For more established plant-based protein alternatives, the challenges of sustainable farming — minimising fertiliser and pesticide use, protecting soil — are better understood.

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

Alternative proteins become ubiquitous

Alternative proteins are grown more efficiently and become more enticing to consumers as taste profiles are refined. Concerns are increasingly raised about emerging monopolies in cultured meat. Nutritional value and sustainability impacts of alternative proteins are better understood. Hybrid products — a mix of cellular agriculture and plant-based produces — begin to bridge the price-point gap.

10-yearhorizon

Markets respond to price-point crossover

Alternative protein, which continues to improve rapidly in quality, falls below $5 per kilogram, becoming cheaper than meat. It now commands 5-10 per cent of the global meat market by volume, compared with less than 1 per cent in 2021. Some specific ingredients, such as milk proteins for dairy-based products, are produced through fermentation, which provides a more acceptable sustainability footprint.

25-yearhorizon

High meat consumption is considered antisocial

After decades, the message that tackling dangerous climate warming is virtually impossible without a large drop in meat consumption begins to make meat-eating a morally questionable practice in many richer societies. Novel food categories are well-established, replacing many of the traditional food items.

Alternative Proteins - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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