Research into the changing landscape of protein production in Austalia estimates that there will be an additional opportunity of $19.9 billion for the sector in the next decade, with a study finding that there's room for both animal-based and alternative proteins on the market.
The newly released report, The Changing Landscape of Protein Production, funded by AgriFutures Australia's National Rural Issues Program and delivered by the Australian Farm Institute, provides analysis which estimates there will be additional opportunities for the Australian protein sector by 2030.
This includes $8.9 billion for Australian animal proteins, $7 billion for traditional plant-sourced proteins, while alternative protein products could deliver a $3.1 billion opportunity for Australian agriculture.
Alternative proteins include plant-sourced meat, dairy and egg substitutes, cultured or cellular meat, insects and algae.
AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey said this research provides important analysis not only on the size of the alternative protein trend but more critically on the implications for Australian producers and investors.
"We now have the facts about the aggregate opportunities for Australian agriculture in response to an emerging market for alternative proteins up to 2030," he said.
"This means we can replace speculation with reliable forecasts to underpin policy, regulatory changes and advocacy positions."
Mr Harvey said prioritising producing enough protein for the growing global population required a united front.
"Segregation and competition between traditional and alternative protein producers are not as big a threat as expected," he said.
"Enabling traditional and alternative protein producers to work in collaboration - such as using the by-product of insect farming as feed for chickens, pigs or fish - will provide a mutual sustainability benefit."
The report sets out a number of recommendations for protein producers including including being proactive about differentiating their products, informing themselves about the most efficient and sustainable use of their natural capital and seeking diversification opportunities, such as disposing of livestock waste through insect farming then using the resulting insect protein for livestock feed. It also recommended that organisations representing protein producers continue to monitor the market for viable emerging trends.
Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath said while there's been a lot of hype around the potential of so-called 'fake meat' as a disruptor to the livestock industry, the research shows the emerging market for alternative proteins should not be seen as a threat to existing production systems but as a means of diversifying choices for producers, processors and consumers.
"New demand for animal protein from a growing global population will outweigh any additional market share that alternative proteins may gain in the next decade," Mr Heath said.