The European plant protein market is projected to reach USD 3.8 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 6.66%, during the forecast period 2021-2026.
The COVID-19 has placed unprecedented stress on the overall supply chain of the plant protein ingredients. Faced with falling European production and social distancing measures, protein-rich plant by-product markets risk entering a phase of greater instability.
The growing trend toward vegan diets and incorporation of plant proteins in processed foods are the major factors driving the market studied. The allergies caused by animal proteins and the abundant amount of nutrients present in plant proteins are also driving the customers toward consuming plant proteins.
The market studied witnessed a significant increase in the adoption of soy protein across several end-user industries, due to its high sustainability. The functional property of soy protein and its natural health benefit compared to animal protein are boosting the market growth in this region.
However, it is no longer soya and ancient grains that are the main alternatives to meat and dairy. Innovation is already on the way to integrating high-protein pulses, such as lupine and chickpeas, algal ingredients, including spirulina, and insects into packaged food and beverages.
Key Market Trends Soy Protein Recorded the Highest Market Share
Soy protein is available in flour, concentrate, and isolate format. Soy protein is widely being incorporated as ingredients in processed food, as a protein supplement, and even available as a protein drink. Other plant protein sources, such as legumes, have gained popularity, due to their low-fat content and adequate amounts of macronutrients, including folate, iron, zinc, and calcium. Pea proteins are perceived as a cost-effective way to follow a healthy lifestyle, as it is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids (unlike rice or beans). Major players are coming up with various forms of protein and are investing more in improving the performance of their existing products, as well as in developing new formulations. For instance, ADM has launched an energy drink incorporated with soy protein, which is available in the United States and European markets.
United Kingdom Represents Largest Market in the Region
Plant-based protein is considered to be a healthy alternative and the most preferred source of protein for consumers seeking inclusion of a good proportion of protein in their diet. It is also experiencing great demand among consumers who are living a vegan lifestyle. According to Statista, in 2016, 0.46% of the population in Great Britain was vegan, which increased to 1.16% in 2019. Due to the increasing shift from animal-based diets, British consumers are seeking sources of protein that are derived from plants, thus, fueling the UK plant protein market’s growth. Moreover, the UK government is encouraging healthy eating and lifestyle among its citizens. This is further leading to the growth potential for the plant protein ingredients, which is marketed as natural, wholesome, and healthy. The popularity and the trend have been observed in the retail chain as well as in the hotel and resort industries of the United Kingdom, where farms like Meatless Farm, Quorn Foods are promoting plant-based meat products and snacks to the consumer by addressing their health, taste, and ethical concerns related to conventional meat and dairy products.
Competitive Landscape The European plant protein market is competitive, with the presence of various strong players. Cargill Incorporated, Archer Daniels Midland, Kerry Inc., DuPont, and Glanbia PLC are some major players operating in the European plant protein market. The market is occupied by various small companies, such as Scoular, Axiom foods, and Growing Naturals LLC. The major players are competing among themselves to obtain the major market share, and as a part of their strategies they acquire small local companies, extend their production lines, and develop new products. The leading players in the market studied have a dominant presence across the European region. These players focus on leverage opportunities posed by the emerging markets to expand their product portfolio to cater to the requirements for various product segments, like meat substitutes and dairy-free products.
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