Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Meat and plant proteins should unite, study says

The meat and plant protein industries should unite as a single protein industry, improving their lobbying stance, said a study released today from the University of Calgary.

It stands in contrast with the fears many in the beef, pork and poultry industry have that plant proteins will steal significant portions of their markets.

“Governments should look at the beef and plant protein industries as one protein market with multiple commodities,” the authors say they learned from participants at a protein industry roundtable held recently at the University of Calgary. 

“The synergies between the sectors can be used to present a strong, sustainable, trusted brand for the Canadian protein market, both domestically and internationally, driving investment for infrastructure and innovation that could improve Canada’s global position for protein production and export. 

“The government should consider developing policies and regulations that can help facilitate such a collaboration,” the study published by the Simpson Centre for Food and Agriculture Policy said.

By presenting a united front, the protein industry has a better chance of lobbying governments for mutually beneficial changes, attracting more investments for infrastructure to increase efficiency and reliability, educating consumers on the synergies between the industries and branding Canadian protein as a sustainable, reliable and abundant market. 

Branding is a key factor in the protein market — consumers, investors and governments need to see the plant and beef protein sectors as partners, not competitors, the authors said.

They need factual information from the industry — rather than be influenced by misperceptions spread by social and mass media — to be satisfied with the agri- products being produced and with the methods of production. 

The roundtable participants cited one example of a synergy with benefits on multiple levels — using the by-product from plant protein production to feed cattle. 

This helps with sustainability in both the beef and plant protein industries, particularly with current global supply chain issues brought on by drought, conflict and other factors. 

It is also environmentally friendly and demonstrates that the industries can work together for each other’s benefit. 

This type of innovative synergy would also improve consumers’ perceptions of the beef and plant protein industries, besides driving investment and expansion. 

Governments need to consider the opportunities that a unified protein market can provide for Canada. A strong, sustainable protein market has the potential for exponential growth, particularly with ongoing global supply chain issues and food security concerns, the study said.