The University of California Berkeley, in partnership with Swiss fragrance and flavor leader Givaudan, released its fifth annual research paper exploring insights into the alternative protein sector. Conducted by students in the Product Development Program, the whitepaper, titled ’10 Alternative Protein Pathways: Opportunities for Greater Efficiency,’ identifies primary challenges and opportunities in alt-protein and ten actionable pathways towards improved efficiency.
The whitepaper notes that as consumers gravitate toward alternative proteins, the industry sees both challenges and opportunities. Supply chain issues, sustainability concerns, and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic pose hurdles. However, opportunities arise for retailers and meat producers who adapt, seizing exclusive distribution rights and acquiring startups. The sector stands at a crossroads, and success hinges on turning challenges into opportunities, with efficiency being a key factor.
“Alternative proteins can significantly reduce environmental impact and improve human health”
Sudhir Joshi, board member and product development product coach at the University of California Berkeley, says, “Alternative proteins can significantly reduce environmental impact and improve human health. Our findings identified four key areas where producers can focus on improving efficiencies and reducing costs for alternative protein products. These were further divided into specific steps companies can take to mitigate risk while still making tasty, healthy, and cost-effective products.”
Four primary opportunities are highlighted in the whitepaper, and within them are ten distinct pathways toward improved efficiency.
Selecting the right Ingredients
Ingredient selection is critical for unlocking value. The report emphasizes the affordability, nutrition, and scalability of protein bases. While soy remains a cost-effective choice, strategies include opting for local ingredients, incorporating bulking agents, and leveraging government-subsidized options.
Exploring hybrid products
Blending plant-based proteins with mycoprotein, cultivated meat, or animal-derived meat opens avenues for diverse culinary experiences. Finding optimal blend ratios and promoting health benefits are crucial for success. Blending plant-based proteins with mycoprotein, cultivated meat, or animal-derived meat opens avenues for diverse culinary experiences. Finding optimal blend ratios and promoting health benefits are crucial for success.
Optimizing the process
The third key area of focus is on optimizing processes to boost efficiency and sustainability, including access to cutting-edge technology, minimizing packaging, and optimizing transport and distribution. Sylvain Jouet, Givaudan’s global product manager, states, “As the cost of the ingredients is an important factor, understanding how to optimize the total product formulation is critical.”
Partnering for innovation
Collaboration is positioned as the new competitive advantage. Partnering with established players aids in scaling up production, and exploring business-to-business models proves to be a more efficient opportunity than business-to-consumer models.
Flavio Garoflao, the Global Director of Culinary and Plant Attitude at Givaduan, states, “In today’s dynamic environment, the key to gaining a competitive edge lies in strategic partnerships. Companies that team up with others to pool their knowledge, expertise, and resources will be better placed to spot market opportunities, unlock efficiencies, and scale innovations more quickly.”
Givaudan plans to take the insights from this whitepaper a step further by collaborating with global startups. The aim is to translate these findings into real innovations that maximize efficiency in alternative protein production. The results, expected in early 2024, will be reviewed by a panel of experts, with the winning startup receiving support for further development and market introduction.
Download the full whitepaper 10 Alternative Protein Pathways: Opportunities for Greater Efficiency here.