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Plants and meat could tap $13bn protein potential

Sheep Central, March 28, 2022

Meat and plants are needed to meet protein demand. Image – CSIRO

AUSTRALIA’S national science agency CSIRO has released a roadmap on how the nation could lead to capture a $13 billion opportunity for all types of protein.

The report ‘Protein: A roadmap for unlocking technology-led growth opportunities for Australia’ also outlines how Australia could create up to 10,000 jobs.

CSIRO said the roadmap provides a strategic overview of Australia’s potential to help meet growing global protein demand by producing a wider variety of protein foods and ingredients and reaching new markets.

CSIRO said with an expected two billion extra people on the planet to feed by 2050, coupled with changing tastes and dietary preferences, the world is going to need to produce more protein, more sustainably and from more sources.

CSIRO chief executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said the protein market opportunity cannot be met by animal proteins alone.

“Australia already has strong cropping industries that our science can leverage to grow our plant-based protein output, and if we invest in our manufacturing capability, we can supercharge that growth.

“We export more than 70 percent of the bulk protein commodities we produce – like grains, legumes, and meat – and ironically buy them back as finished products,” he said.

“We could capture significantly more value if we invest in our processing and manufacturing facilities to convert these into higher value products for international markets, just as we’ve demonstrated already creating companies like v2food to bring plant-based protein products onto the mainstream market.”

Growth opportunities include new plant-based products, turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals, developing higher-protein and better tasting legume crops, creating a new sustainable industry in Australian white-flesh fish, and exploring non-traditional forms of protein like cultivated meat and edible insects.

Dr Marshall said Australia’s strong history and global reputation in agriculture and food present a big opportunity for future growth.

“As protein demand grows and new consumer trends emerge, solutions from science can help create new markets and complement our existing, globally competitive traditional markets.

“This will help shift Australia’s reputation from being the world’s food bowl of commodities to becoming a global delicatessen of unique higher value exports,” Dr Marshall said.

“CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission recognises the scale of this challenge and brings together a wide network of partners with the latest innovative technology to seize this opportunity for a resilient and sustainable food system.

“We can supercharge growth in our traditional protein industries by harnessing technologies like digital traceability and integrity systems that enhance the premium status of Australian red meat, and grow new complementary protein markets through techniques like precision fermentation to generate a suite of new Australian products.”

The CSIRO roadmap highlights how protein demand can only be met by bringing together animal, plant and non-traditional protein production systems.

Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre FIAL’s managing director, Dr Mirjana Prica, said the global demand for protein represents a significant export opportunity for all of Australia’s protein players.

“Consumer demand is increasing for all protein sources.

“Australia has a real opportunity to have a thriving local food manufacturing sector, while becoming a leading exporter in value added traditional, plant, and novel protein products,” she said.

“Building domestic capacity and infrastructure to not only tap, but to build scale, for the plethora of protein opportunities is critical if we are to switch from importing ingredients to producing our own domestically.”

CSIRO said it developed the roadmap “drawing on its deep and broad connections in the sector to drive a conversation about how to grow this protein opportunity for national benefit, underpinned by the right infrastructure and technology”.

The roadmap was developed in consultation with key stakeholders in government, industry and the research sector across Australia’s agriculture, food and innovation system.

Access the full report: www.csiro.au/protein-roadmap

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