The meat industry has to 'wake-up' if it is to stop plant-based alternatives from 'stealing' its market share, according to a new report.
The report, called Watch out... or They Will Steal Your Growth! Why Alternative Proteins Are Competing So Successfully for the Centre of the Plate, says that 'doing nothing' is not a rational response to the threat posed by alternative proteins.
It says: "Alternative proteins are capturing plenty of consumer interest, food column inches, and space in food retail cabinets and on foodservice menus.
"And if the talk is any indicator, they appear set to enter the mainstream in the coming years."
The study, by Rabo Research, claims that the growth of alternative proteins is of greater interest than their current market size.
Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist – Animal Protein, says: "The strong and persistent drivers supporting the current growth of alternative proteins will continue over the next five years, at least.
"This means alternative proteins have the potential to capture a material share of animal protein demand growth in the EU, and also capture more market share in the US and Canada."
The meat industry should look at opportunities within the alternative proteins sector, according to the report, which says: "This growth should also serve as a wake-up call to the animal protein sector, as we do not see doing nothing as a rational response.
"The persistent drivers behind the growth in alternative proteins offer clear opportunities—and if animal protein companies do not seize these, they will turn into threats.
"These opportunities include investing in developing alternative protein sources, in addition to learning from the companies already active in this space about product innovation, positioning, and marketing."
Some meat processors have already put out feelers into the alternatives sector.
Tom Hayes CEO, Tyson Foods - one of the largest meat processors in the world - said: "Plant-based protein is growing almost, at this point, a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction."
The company has already bought a five percent stake in plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat (for an undisclosed amount).
Additionally, a number of global meat producers are rumored to be in talks with plant food tech startup Just over potentially licensing lab meat technology.
While lab meat is not vegan - it is viewed as an alternative to the traditional rearing and using of animals.