Opportunities exist to coordinate product development partnerships between ingredient suppliers, strategic partners, and product manufacturers to directly engage more holistically on product formulation.
A more comprehensive understanding of the processes, structures, and molecular constituents governing meat's organoleptic properties will inform the production of alternative proteins.
Plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated products will all require solutions for encapsulating fat and moisture to ensure that these components are protected from damage or loss throughout manufacturing, storage, and preparation.
A number of cellular processes occurring after slaughter are known to affect the quality and sensory properties of conventional meat. Cultivated meat will offer unprecedented control over these parameters and therefore over the quality of the final product, but it is critical to understand exactly how post-harvest processes for cultivated meat can or should differ from post-slaughter processes in conventional meat. This research can enable subsequent innovations in bioprocess design, media formulation, cell line development, or harvesting techniques to confer consistently high levels of meat quality from cultivated meat processes.
Plant-based food manufacturers often struggle with batch-to-batch ingredient inconsistency and variability between suppliers. Better analytical tools for predicting plant-based ingredient performance could improve manufacturing efficiency and create more transparent ingredient markets. Tools are needed to predict how ingredients will perform after various processing methods and in end-product applications like plant-based meat and dairy.
Processing crops into flours, isolates, and concentrates often relies on chemical and mechanical methods. Biological processing techniques may impart the desired composition and molecular structure for optimal functionality with increased precision, lower cost, and greater suitability for small-scale processing. Biological processing techniques include using enzymes to fine-tune functional properties like solubility, gelling capacity, and fat- and water-binding capacity or using microbial fermentation to convert plant protein feedstocks into more functional forms.
Techno-economic models are critical for process design and cost of goods projections. Open-access models based on generalized or exemplar processes with standardized unit operations and designs can form the foundation for individual companies’ work, reducing duplicative effort. Furthermore, techno-economic models can identify key cost drivers and opportunities for process improvements to guide future research efforts. The independent research consultancy CE Delft recently published a cultivated meat techno-economic analysis. However, similar efforts are needed for fermentation-derived and plant-based meat production.
Microbial biosynthetic pathways can be mined computationally to identify candidate pathways for manufacturing high-value ingredients via fermentation.
Demand forecasts impact investments in R&D, infrastructure, personnel, and partnerships that will be necessary to participate in and accelerate the alternative protein sector.
Creating an online, open-access decision matrix tool that ranks popular seafood-relevant species against each other based on several criteria such as market size, per-unit price, sustainability of conventional production practices, animal welfare considerations, and consumer receptivity to alternative seafood products of that species.