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Alternative Protein Sources: From Cultivated Meat to Insect Protein

Jun 28, 2021 | Animal Cells, Insects

Cultivated meat is often placed in a markedly separate box to insect protein. Combine these two alternative protein sources with plant-based production, and these make up the three main methods aiming to take a bite out of the traditional protein market.

At Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins, held online over two days in June, these three fast-growing industries were placed side-by-side to show how similar they were; their potential for growth, their innovative nature, and how they can be combined for a more sustainable protein-rich future.

Alternative proteins need to be accessible to the world – and the combination of all these production methods will allow cost to be kept in check, whilst taste and offerings are not compromised.

Plant-based protein

At the start of the sustainable protein production revolution, there were plant-based goods. The plant-based protein industry has been growing steadily since its inception, with offerings including dairy and meat substitutes. In 2020, the industry received over $2 billion, with no sign of slowing down in 2021. The wide range of foods that can be made from plant-based products is appealing and has grown in public interest. New companies are appearing in the industry weekly, offering new takes on traditional animal-derived products.

Insect protein

Insect protein is another area that investors are starting to keep a keen eye on. Black soldier flies, which we have a Genetic Nucleus for, are a dominant option in the industry as there is use at all stages of the lifecycle. The versatility of end uses for insect protein and other products is what is allowing the industry to boom.

Cultivated meat

The cultivated meat industry is picking up pace. In 2020, it received more than $300 million in investment, which has already been topped in 2021. Much like the plant-based industry, new companies are constantly starting, making it a hugely innovative and exciting field of work. 

For cultivated meat, there are various ways to produce end products. At Roslin Tech, we specialise in induced pluripotent stem cell lines – iPS cells are immortal, durable, and can differentiate into any type of cell in the body, making them ideal choices for cultivated meat production. Other types of cells such as primary and mesenchymal cells are used by many in the industry, however there are drawbacks to using them in full production

Our Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Jacqui Matthews, spoke at the Future Food-Tech conference on the characteristics of cell lines needed by the industry to promote scale up for end user goods. Listen again to her talk on the platform or our direct link.

Future for alternative proteins?

Alternative proteins are becoming more common amongst the backdrop of growing consumer demand for alternatives to traditional protein production. Investment is growing and larger consumer-focused companies are also starting to become involved in the rapidly growing industries.

For Roslin Tech, which offers both cultivated meat and insect breeding solutions, we are excited to see how these industries grow. There is global interest and need for greater sustainability in our food chains, and we are pleased to play our part in the alternative protein transformation.