Meat and dairy products in recent years have battled plant-based alternatives for consumer dollars. Now, another competitor looms.
“Major disruption is coming to protein ingredients,” said Stephanie Mattucci, associate director, global food science for Mintel. “Clean meat or lab-grown meat is expected to disrupt both the meat industry and the plant-based meat industry.”
Taste and texture still rank as barriers to plant-based meat alternatives while clean meat faces hurdles in price, scale and regulatory approvals, she said.
Lab-grown proteins already are featured in products sold at retail. Brave Robot, an animal-free ice cream brand, incorporates non-animal whey protein isolate from Perfect Day, a startup based in Berkeley, Calif. The product label reads, “a simple, animal-free treat that uses less land, energy and water.”
Lab-grown proteins could find a home in other categories, like cheese alternatives and sports nutrition products.
“Ice cream is really just the beginning for these non-animal whey proteins,” she said. “Of course, pending regulatory approval, synthetic non-animal dairy proteins offer new solutions in categories where nutritional or technical challenges have really limited vegan innovation.”