Kristy Huynh, BBA, Research Officer Intern
In North America, protein is considered to be part of a healthy diet and sought out by consumers. New products are being advertised with high protein claims. Often, these high protein foods and drinks are made with animal, dairy and soy-based proteins. In recent years, consumers have been increasingly interested in other plant-based protein options.
According to Nielsen market research, the demand for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives increased by 8.2 per cent in 2017, reaching USD $3.1 billion in sales. Research into Americans’ appetites show similar results. Seventy per cent of Americans believe plant-based protein is healthy. Despite this, plant-based proteins are not projected to be North America’s main protein source anytime soon. While 30 per cent of Canadians are planning to purchase more plant-based food products over the next year, 80 per cent still consider meat to be their main source of protein. The interest in meat as a main source of protein does not seem to be changing, but the interest in plant-based proteins is booming.
The global plant protein market was valued at USD $6.0 billion in 2017 and is expected to increase 7.1 per cent annually over the next five years. This is a major opportunity for Saskatchewan as a top producer of plant-based proteins, especially pulse crops. Large companies such as Maple Leaf Foods have diversified their product profile to meet trending needs. Maple Leaf acquired Field Roast and Light Life Foods, and currently, holds a competitive position in the U.S. plant food market. According to the Dutch bank, alternative protein demand in North America is expected to increase from 165,000 tonnes in 2016 to 200,000 tonnes by 2022. This would make up two per cent of the total growth in protein alone.
In the years to come, growth is expected in all protein sectors. This will especially be true for plant-based protein options, like pulses. As a versatile, sustainable and good option for those with soy or wheat allergies, Saskatchewan stands to benefit greatly.