Elevating the visibility and credibility of the field at scientific conferences will expand the technical talent pipeline and amplify collaboration and funding efforts.
2 - Early adoption
Interdisciplinary research is essential for tackling many of the complex problems facing today’s world. Though the number of research projects advancing alternative protein science has increased in recent years, this research has been conducted in a largely disjointed fashion with few centralized hubs for coordination. The field would benefit from dedicated interdisciplinary research centers to drive the science and technology needed to address our unsustainable food and agriculture system. University centers of excellence are essential to rallying researchers and industry partners to tackle complex questions facing the alternative protein field today.
Fibers from non-traditional texturization techniques like electrospinning, jet spinning, or blow spinning could impart texture throughout a product even if they don’t comprise the bulk of the end product, which may render these approaches economically viable for enhancing texture within a bulk product even at a relatively small scale.
Investors specializing in alternative proteins should be leveraged to educate the broader investment community through coalitions, syndicated deals, and co-investments with industry-agnostic investors, and spearhead efforts to facilitate later-stage funding like debt and inventory financing.
Open-access product formulation specifications could provide clear metrics and objectives for product developers on attributes like taste, price, nutrition, and ingredient ratios.
Brands, dedicated private labelers, and co-manufacturers can take advantage of the private labeling opportunity, and would benefit from developing a wide range of products to fit every category and access to R&D to meet unique needs of customers.
Plants can serve as expression platforms similar to microorganisms used as recombinant protein hosts. This may require minimal processing into value-added ingredients, such as egg and dairy functional proteins. Plants offer scalability with less need for expensive downstream purification to isolate proteins of interest from inedible or undesirable hosts.
Plant-based meat snacks could tap into underlying trends in snacks replacing meals and increased consumer interest in high-protein, low-sugar foods. Product innovation is needed to match the taste, price, and availability of animal options.
Resources and services that make it easier to locate, filter, and prioritize sales and partnership efforts would ease transactional burdens for startups and add value to existing companies looking for new partners, customers, and trends.
The success of early-days products has demonstrated strong consumer interest, but investment is needed to enable alternative protein supply chain companies to build out the infrastructure needed to capitalize on this opportunity. In particular, there is a need for debt-based financing that can be structured to support large infrastructure projects.