Givaudan: “In the Future, Alternative Proteins in Dairy Won’t Be an Alternative Anymore”

Givaudan is a Swiss multinational company producing flavors and fragrances. In recent years, the company has been increasingly focused on alternative proteins, particularly dairy alternatives.

Earlier this year, Givaudan partnered with open data intelligence agency Synthesis to research the topic of Dairy Alternative Futures, which anticipates future scenarios and challenges in the alt dairy industry. The company also expanded its Protein Hub in Kemptthal, Switzerland, in July to support the development of dairy alternatives.

Last month, Givaudan released a research paper in partnership with The University of California Berkeley, identifying primary challenges and opportunities in alt protein and ten actionable pathways towards improved efficiency. Catherine Bayard, Global Product Manager at Givaudan, told us more about how the company envisions the future of alt dairy and other alternative proteins,

What will the world of dairy alternatives look like in the coming decade?
While we can’t know for sure what’s going to happen, we can surely prepare ourselves for various scenarios and try to rehearse the future. That is why we have collaborated with our partner, Synthesis, an open data insights agency, to explore ‘Dairy Alternative Futures.’

© Givaudan

We quickly realised that there are many variables in the global environment (we identified at least 40 drivers) from technology advancements to changing consumer demographics, sustainability challenges, and how people consume food and make choices. So, considering all of that we had to place our bets. And while our scenario is just one of multiple options, we are confident that the dairy alternatives market will continue to scale up and the range of products will continue to grow. There will be local varieties and nuances, but we are expecting that in the not-so-distant future – perhaps in less than a decade – alternative proteins in dairy won’t be an alternative anymore, but rather a fully developed category on par with traditional dairy.

How did Givaudan use scenario planning to explore different potential futures for the dairy alternatives industry?
Given that the future is so multi-dimensional, we also understand that our preparation for the future should consider multiple directions as well. We must prepare as an industry, and that’s why we strongly believe in the development of a whole ecosystem of like-minded partners. We are all together on this journey, and that is very powerful!

At Givaudan, we collaborate with insights agencies; Synthesis is a great example. We establish long-term partnerships with universities and academia (e.g., the University of California, Berkeley, with whom we have an annual research project related to alternative proteins), equipment suppliers, start-ups focusing on new and emerging technologies, and many more. We bring it all together in our dedicated Protein Hubs around the world, which is our long-term commitment to bringing dairy alternatives to the next level, and elevating experiences for consumers so that they can access mindful diets easily and without any hurdles.

Givaudan Zürich Innovation Centre
© Givaudan

How will the food and beverage industry unlock scalability in response to changing consumer preferences?
Consumer interest in healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable nutrition will continue to grow. And we see responses on different levels that will help the industry to scale even faster. When it comes to dairy alternatives, it is great to see an increasing number of companies and start-ups working with new bases, like precision fermentation, so investments continue.

“The opportunities are almost endless”

At the same time, we see different government bodies start to be more open to things like cell-based proteins, which are currently more visible in the meat segment but will surely affect dairy as well. Singapore, the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the UK are already on the way or starting to open up towards acceptance of the concept of cell-based. This is very exciting, and we can expect a positive ‘avalanche’ effect going forward. Another interesting territory is the combining of these new proteins with already quite developed and established plant bases (so-called hybrid protein products). The opportunities are almost endless, and it is just a matter of time before a truly big scale can be achieved.

“We identified two key uncertainties surrounding the future of dairy alternatives: perception and stability”. Please can you expand upon this for our readers?
While working on the drivers of change for Dairy Alternative Futures we concluded that there will be two factors playing the most critical role in where the industry will go in the coming years. The first is perception, or the acceptance of the category on a large scale. Will there be multiple formats, subcategories, and a wide range of price points for every budget? Or will the market still be dominated by dairy, with alternatives seen as something more premium or even niche in some countries?

Givaudan Zürich Innovation Centre
© Givaudan

On the other hand, we will rely on stability and harmonisation of trade, supply chains, sourcing, and regulation on a global scale. Will international policies, definitions, and labelling around alternative proteins be unified, and will sourcing be open globally, with minimal restrictions in place? Or will it differ from region to region, causing fragmentation and an unharmonised environment?

“It is better to start preparing now, before it is too late.”

We all want it to be scaled, fully accepted by consumers, and harmonised, but perhaps that is a bit too optimistic for a horizon of one decade. That’s how we concluded that the technology scaling will be there, and acceptance will grow. And that’s what we are working on, with the help of our Protein Hubs. However, we can’t expect a harmonised world, so there will be significant differences between regions and even countries. Hence, understanding local sources of protein and finding effective ways of using different protein varieties will be key, as not everything will be available to all.

“Changing demographics and a fragmented media landscape are powering consumer diet shifts, expanding who we serve”. Can you expand upon this briefly and what it signifies?
We can already see significant differences between Millennials and older generations. In the coming years Gen Z, and further down the line, Gen Alpha, will become the main purchasing powerhouses. These generations will have fewer limitations in terms of acceptance of the role of new technologies and new processes in food. They are growing up with these technologies assisting them in their daily lives: from social media to gadgets, AI, VR, and more – they see technology as integral. Hence, we believe they are going to have much greater trust in food developed by what can be seen as ‘new’ or even ‘crazy’ tech by older generations. So, they will not have a hard time accepting that meat or dairy can be produced in a laboratory and that it can be as good, or even better – in terms of not only taste but also nutrition – than more conventional animal proteins. That’s a ‘scenario’ we must account for, and it is better to start preparing now – before it is too late.

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