CSIRO maps a $13b future for protein-based foods

Brandon How

CSIRO has launched a roadmap to capitalise on the rapidly growing demand for protein-based food products and highlights several protein products that present huge opportunities for Australia.

In particular, the roadmap highlights the potential for more plant-based products, sustainable aquaculture for white flesh fish, and developing higher protein and tastier legumes, converting cuts of red meat into protein powders and nutraceuticals. It also calls for the development of non-traditional protein sources like precision fermentations, lab-grown meat, and edible insects.

CSIRO’s protein roadmap highlights $13 billion worth of protein opportunities. Image: CSIRO

Overall, the aim is to generate an additional $13 billion over conservative estimates of the industry by 2030 through the technology-led protein product opportunities outlined. CSIRO estimates that this could bring the total value of the Australian protein sector to $89 billion and support 14,350 jobs.

Plant-based proteins account for an opportunity of $6 billion alone, with the next largest opportunity being red meat for health and wellness markets at almost $4 billion. Insect protein sources alone could be worth $32 million by 2030 if the opportunity is seized.

The market for Australian protein products is expected to grow by 10.47 million consumers between 2018 and 2030, with overall demand to increase by 8.65 million tonnes to 65 million tonnes.

The five strategic focus areas are to strengthen product integrity and market access, optimizing quality and cost competitiveness, maximizing resources and circularity, enabling the scale-up of high growth sectors, and developing novel production systems.

The release of the roadmap supports CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission, launched in 2021 in collaboration with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, along with industry groups and the private sector. The protein mission was announced alongside a drought resilience and AgriFood export mission, which collectively received a $150 million investment from CSIRO, government, and industry.

According to the roadmap, the need for a developed protein product sector is critical as the world’s population is expected to grow by two billion by 2050. CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said that Australia could leverage its history of a strong agricultural sector as a huge growth opportunity.

“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.”

Managing director of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre at Food Innovation Australia Dr Mirjana Prica, echoed similar sentiments and emphasised the need to develop domestic protein capabilities.

“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,” Dr Prica 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.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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