Plant-based meat alternatives could account for 6% of total meat consumption by 2030 if the sector continues to expand at the current rate, according to analysis by the Good Food Institute reported by World Grain on 7 February.

The GFI estimated that just 2% of global wheat and soya production would be needed for plant-based meat in the future. However, the industry may require up to three times the projected supply of soya protein concentrate, with supplies of pea protein also being potentially problematic, according to the ‘Plant-based meat: Anticipating 2030 production requirements’ report.

The report urged manufacturers and ingredient suppliers to explore alternative plant proteins, such as certain legumes, oilseeds, vegetables, nuts and cereals.

Coconut oil’s high saturated fat content and resulting functional properties made it an essential component of many plant-based meat products, with the sector requiring at least 16% of global supply by 2030.

However, the commodity’s export dependency could lead to supply constraints and price volatility, according to the report.

“If coconut oil retains its dominance in plant-based meat formulations, and alternative means of production are not developed, additional investments in processing capacity and coconut cultivation would likely be required to keep pace with increased demand,” GFI’s science and technology analysis manager Dylan Dowdy (PhD) was quoted as saying.

The industry’s reliance on coconut oil, combined with its volatile supply chains, suggested the industry should aim to diversify into alternative fats that provided similar qualities, he added.

“Novel manufacturing methods for producing similar fats, like using microbial strains or modifying more abundant plant fats, should also be explored,” Dowdy said.