Alternative Proteins Association urges UK gov to back plant-based meat amid new research
19 Apr 2023 --- The British Alternative Proteins Association (APA) is calling on the UK government to proactively support the alternative protein industry after new research found a strong appetite among English consumers for plant-based meat alternatives.
According to the research, the vast majority (96%) of consumers are familiar with plant-based meat alternatives and over 70% have eaten them. The survey, conducted in February 2022, involved a nationally presentative sample by gender, age and religion of 1,000 consumers.
Moreover, a large majority (71-76%) were found to be positive toward subsidizing alternative proteins to make them cheaper, and a large majority (72-94%) agree the UK government should be proactive in supporting the British alternative proteins industry.
“The results show that the British public is largely positive toward alternative proteins, and further developments could increase that sentiment. We showed that the majority would be more likely to buy them if they become healthier, cheaper and use British ingredients,” Dr. Christopher Bryant, head of policy at APA, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Alternative proteins can help address so many of our pressing problems, like reducing our emissions and freeing up land, which is vital in our progress toward net zero. They can also reduce our reliance on antibiotics, food imports and the chance of animal-borne diseases like bird flu.”
Last week, the UK government injected £12 million (US$15 million) into a Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub led by the University of Bath. Bryant refers to this investment as “a good first step for the UK to leverage its rich scientific heritage to become a leader in alternative proteins.”
At the hub, researchers will develop sustainable palm oil through precision fermentation. This technique uses organisms such as yeast to produce real egg or dairy proteins to deliver the flavor and texture of foods like cheese, meat and eggs without using animals.
But according to Bryant, there are several more “easy changes” the government could make to support the alternative proteins industry.
“First, since meat and dairy are VAT exempt, it makes sense to extend these VAT exemptions to include alternative proteins,” he suggests.
“Second, since alternative proteins touch so many government targets, prioritizing alternative proteins ahead of other novel foods like CBD products in the approval process makes sense.”
“Third, active engagement between the Food Standards Agency and the alternative proteins industry is vital to allow companies to create comprehensive and high-quality applications.”
According to the research, the majority (53-65%) of English consumers would be more positive toward plant-based meat alternatives which are made in the UK.
While the research suggests that plant-based alternatives are increasingly popular among UK consumers, APA is encouraged by the arrival of cell-cultured meat, which it claims could “take alternative proteins to the next level.”
“There is some evidence that cultivated meat can reach more stubborn meat-eaters who have not yet been convinced by plant-based options, so these different products will complement each other well,” says Bryant.
“We encourage the UK government to continue to invest in alternative proteins to send a signal that the UK is open for business for alternative proteins.”
Currently, the UK lags behind several countries like Singapore, Israel, the US and the Netherlands in delivering regulatory frameworks that support the burgeoning cultivated meat space.
Meanwhile, the insect protein industry continues to establish itself as a major force in the alternative proteins space.
We recently explored the rise of food accelerator programs through which big organizations are investing in start-ups, including in the alternative proteins industry, to help solve global challenges like climate change and food security.
By Joshua Poole
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