In this piece, we’d like to shed light on why it’s important to explore alternatives to proteins for a more impactful transformation of the food system.

According to Britannica1, meats typically contain approximately 20 percent protein, 20 percent fat, and 60 percent water. Conversely, fish contains a protein content ranging from 13 to 20 percent, with fat levels varying from less than 1 to more than 20 percent, and a water content ranging from 60 to 82 percent. Fresh whole milk, a popular dairy product, contains around 88% water, 3.2% protein, 3.3% fat, and 4.7% carbohydrates.

  • The protein in meat is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Twenty different types of amino acids combine to form the different proteins found in meat.
  • The fat in meat is made up of a combination of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, which provide flavor and contribute to the texture of the meat. Different types of meat have different amounts of fat, with some cuts being leaner than others.
  • Meat, seafood, and dairy also contain various vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, calcium, etc.

To create successful alternative proteins that can fully replace traditional meat, seafood, and dairy products, we must build them from the ground up, using a combination of animal-free sources for proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This approach requires a significant investment in research and development and a willingness to experiment with new ingredients and formulations.

Fats play a crucial role in the taste and texture of meat and seafood, providing flavor and mouthfeel that are difficult to replicate with plant-based ingredients alone. However, traditional animal fats, such as beef tallow and lard, are not viable options for alternative proteins due to their animal-derived origin and negative health associations. For example, alternative protein companies can explore using plant-based sources of fats, such as avocado or coconut oil, to create products with the same texture and mouthfeel as traditional meat products. They can also develop new and innovative flavor profiles that appeal to a wide range of consumers.

According to Fortune Business Insights2, The global edible animal fat market is projected to grow from $45.65 billion in 2021 to $63.98 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 4.9% in the forecast period 2021-2028.

“The global market for animal fat reached a volume of nearly 27.1 MMT in 2020. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.8% between 2023 and 2028, owing to the increase in demand from the foodservice sector.”3

In terms of investments, alternative fat attracts more capital than alternative seafood in Europe, though it lags behind its dairy and meat counterparts.

  1. Meat, fish, and eggs, Britannica
  2. Edible Animal Fat Market, Fortune Business Insights
  3. Animal Fat Market, Expert Market Research
A big fat opportunity: the startups are cooking up a key ingredient for alt proteins
A big fat opportunity: the startups are cooking up a key ingredient for alt proteins

Overall, the market size of animal-derived fats is significant. And it is up for disruption because consumers have become more aware of the health, the zoonotic origin of COVID-19, altered meat consumption habits, the decline in fat animal demand, and animal by-product prices.

The market size of animal-derived colors, flavors, minerals, and vitamins is challenging to estimate accurately, as it encompasses a wide range of products and applications. Animal-derived colors, flavors, minerals, and vitamins are used in various industries, including food and beverage, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals.

Another key advantage of looking beyond proteins is that alternative protein products can be developed with specific functional properties in mind. Algama has developed an egg replacer ingredient with properties similar to an egg and can easily be used in baking. This type of ingredient provides an opportunity to develop healthier, more sustainable, and more versatile products. These ingredients can come from plant-based technologies, cell agriculture, precision fermentation, molecular farming, and more.

While proteins are a critical component of meat, dairy, and seafood products, the success of alternative proteins depends on a much broader approach that considers all the other nutrients and functional properties that make these products so appealing.