Alternative proteins: how Big Food can accelerate the transition to net zero

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A new working paper from the Smith School describes the rapid growth of corporate venturing in the alternative proteins sector, and why this could represent a step-change in the transition of global food systems to net zero.

Food systems account for as much as one-third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The single most impactful way in which these emissions could be reduced is by decreasing the proportion of protein in our diets that is derived from animal proteins, in favour of alternative protein sources. Increasing consumer awareness and rising demand for meat and dairy analogues has supported the fast growth of the 'alternative proteins' sector, which has been underpinned by innovation in plant-based and cell-based technologies.

In this paper we explore the emerging role of established food companies as investors and drivers of alternative protein innovation. We hypothesise that with a credible route to market - a core element of the corporate venturing proposition - meat and dairy analogues that look the same, taste the same and cost the same (or less) as the 'real thing' could transform the protein mix in human and animal diets within a single generation.

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