The alternative protein market is an opportunity to ensure better food security and a sustainable investment alternative


Clean air, clean water, healthy soil, biodiversity, good quality, safe, healthy and affordable food - these are topics that are gaining more and more relevance at the moment. All the mentioned areas are elastically interconnected, so negative changes in one area can quickly move to other areas as well. For example, the negative impact of the meat industry on climate change includes not only the large amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the environment, but also a huge source of air and water pollution. In view of these livestock-related issues, the alternative protein market is increasingly being looked to as a more sustainable and safer alternative to meat or other animal products.

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems conducted a comprehensive comparison of the plant-based Beyond Burger and a standard burger to address issues of environmental improvement. conducted by scientists in 2018 investigation the results show that producing a plant-based Beyond Burger required 99% less water, 93% less land, 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, and 46% less energy.

The need to reform the food system is discussed in international political discussions

Food chains face increasing threats every year from recurrent droughts, floods, forest fires, loss of biodiversity and new pests. The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine only highlighted the problem of food availability even more. 2019 at the World Economic Forum it was pointed out that in the last 50 years the number of people on the planet has doubled and the amount of meat eaten has tripled. Population and per capita income growth is projected to increase global meat consumption by 14 percent over the next ten years. (OECD, 2022).

Therefore, various countries and international organizations are looking for solutions not only to effectively meet the increasing demand for meat, but also for alternatives to traditional food products of animal origin. For example, the 2020 year of the European Union in the strategy "Farm to Fork" concluded that current food consumption patterns do not preserve health or the environment. For this reason, the European Commission is making efforts to ensure a more sustainable consumption of food products and to facilitate the transition to a healthy, sustainable diet. It also wants to reduce dependence on key feed materials (such as soybeans grown on cleared forest land) by promoting the use of plant proteins grown in EU countries and alternative feed materials such as algae.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also analyzes the possibilities of food alternatives. OECD September 2022 in the report several possible meat alternatives are discussed, such as: plant-based alternatives or cultured meat (meat grown from animal stem cells). It is true that the latter is still in the early stages of development, but plant products, which are often extracted using the targeted fermentation method, are becoming more and more similar to the animal products we are used to. Most of the time, plant-based meat production uses well-known protein-rich plants, such as soybeans and peas, various grains (for example, wheat, rice), potato starch and vegetable oils (for example, coconut, canola, sunflower).

The European Union, in order to actively contribute to the development of a healthy, safe, climate-friendly and environmentally friendly food system, plans to carry out many important scientific studies related to the greater availability and sources of alternative proteins. For example, in the program "European horizon” alternative proteins are included among the priority areas of innovation.

Development of the market for alternative proteins 

International organization "The Good Food Institute" in 2022 in the report it is indicated that in 2021 sales of plant-based meat across Europe reached record highs. Retail sales of plant-based meat in Western Europe in 2021 increased by around 19 % to a record 2.3 billion euros ($2.6 billion). And global sales of plant-based meat increased by 17 % to 5.15 billion in 2021. euros.

It is predicted, that by 2035 the alternative protein market will grow from the current 2 percent to 10-22 percent. According to this forecast, plant-based alternatives with a similar taste and texture should soon become equal to animal-based proteins in the EU and US markets. In addition, they will become cheaper over the next decade. 

The rapid growth of the meat alternatives market is attracting the interest of investors and venture capital firms in this market. Counting, that the alternative protein industry in 2021 attracted 5 billion dollars of investment, which is 60 percent more than in 2020. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations assessment there are currently 1,000 manufacturers, brands and 500 ingredient suppliers active in the alternative protein space worldwide.

Trends are followed by both famous investors,
both businesses

Such are known investors like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Richard Branson are also investing in the alternative protein market. NASA should also be mentioned, which in 2000-2001 funded the research for cell-based meat. One of Google founders Back in 2011, Sergey Brin provided funding for the development of lab-grown hamburger technology. The Israeli company "SuperMeat" in 2016 initiated by a successful crowdfunding campaign to develop animal-based food substitutes.

In addition, well-known food service operators are also responding to the growing demand for alternative proteins: McDonald's introduced “McPlant” burger, Danish plant-based brand Naturli is partnering with chicken producer Scandi Standard to deliver plant-based “Green Nuggets". in 2020 in JanuaryNovishpresented plant-based fish substitutes at the Horecavos exhibition and became the first vegan fish company in Europe. And Nestlé offers vegetable shrimp product, made from seaweed and peas.

European companies are making great technological progress in the development of alternative proteins. Here is the Spanish startup Novameat 3D printed the world's largest farmed steak, and Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles created by plant origin fillets using a technique that layers soy and wheat protein fibers and rubs them with sunflower oil.

Alternative protein production is second to none
and Lithuanian markets 

In our country, it is also becoming easy to find online stores, supermarkets or eateries that offer products made from alternative proteins. "Puratos Lithuania" plant-based products, "Amala Vegan Factory" plant-based sausages of the company or "Soyalita” products from soy are just a few examples that show that the ideas of alternative proteins are spreading not only in the world, but also in Lithuania.

to the European Commission in 2022 November 21 upon approval Lithuanian Agriculture and Rural Development 2023-2027 strategic plan, new opportunities are opening up for the development of alternative proteins. According to this strategic document, almost 4.3 billion will be allocated to Lithuanian agriculture and rural development for five years. EUR of EU support. The EU's common agricultural policy is aimed at the green transformation of European agriculture, therefore only for "green" measures about 1.3 billion is expected to be allocated EUR (31%) in 2023-2027. strategic plan funds. It should be noted that during the implementation of this plan, great attention will also be paid to innovations and education in the field of agriculture. 

Funding provided in the strategic plan is only one of the possible funding mechanisms. Financing is also possible under the aforementioned "European Horizon" program, the Economic Revitalization and Resilience Facility, and other European structural and investment funds. These financing alternatives open up opportunities for Lithuania not only to catch up with the alternative protein leaders in Europe, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, Germany and France, but also to make a breakthrough in this area with great potential in the world.

The consumption of alternative proteins is becoming a popular global food consumption trend of the last decade. This is not only because there is increasing information about the presence of favorable nutrients, nutritional balance and the positive health and environmental effects of alternative proteins. The market of alternative proteins attracts the interest of consumers and investors also due to the fact that the need to solve the increasing world population, the growing demand for food of animal origin, climate change and other problems is becoming more and more actual. All of these circumstances make it possible to assert that alternative proteins will strongly modify the current patterns of food production and consumption in the near future. Therefore, it is believed that more and more attention should be paid to alternative proteins in Lithuania.

Author: Robertas Vaitkus, Doctor of Economic Sciences


of the European Commission in 2022 November 21 implementing decision C(2022) 8272 final.

Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "A fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system under the Farm to Fork strategy", COM(2020) 381 final. 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation. (09 May 2022). 

Frezal C., Nenert C. and Gay H. (2022). Meat protein alternatives: Opportunities and challenges for food systems' transformation. OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, well 182, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Good Food Institute. Plant-based meat sales up 19% to record €2.3 billion in western Europe, report shows. 14 April 2022.

Good Food Institute. Record $5 billion invested in alt proteins in 2021, surging 60 percent since 2020. 

Heller MC and Gregory AK (2018). Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger Life Cycle Assessment: A detailed comparison between a plant-based and an animal-based protein source. CSS Report, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor 1-38. 

Ho S. Spanish Food Tech Novameat 3D Prints The 'World's Biggest Cell-Based Meat Prototype'. Green Queen. 26 January 2021.

Horizon Europe Work Program 2023-2024. 9. Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment (European Commission Decision C(2022)7550 of 6 December 2022). 

Kaja A. Slovenian Startup Created World's First 'Marbled' Steak Mignon. 3 November 2022. 

Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania. The strategic plan of Lithuanian agriculture and rural development was approved. in 2022 November 29 

McDonald's. McPlant. 

Naturli' Partners With Scandanavia's Biggest Poultry Producer For 'Green Nuggets' in Gas Stations. vegconomist. 12 May 2021. 

Nestlé. Plant-based alternatives to egg and shrimp now on the menu at Nestlé. 7 October 2021. 

Novish history. 

Stephens N., Sexton AE and Driessen C. (2019). Making Sense of Making Meat: Key Moments in the First 20 Years of Tissue Engineering Muscle to Make Food. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 3:45 a.m.

SuperMeat - REAL meat, without animal slaughter. 

World Economic Forum (2019). This is how many animals we eat each year. 

Zampa M.. The Next Generation of Alternative Proteins. Sentient Media. 1 March 2019.



Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!