UK must invest £390m in alternative protein by 2030, GFI reports
A new report from the Good Food Institute (GFI) has called for the UK government to invest £390 million in alternative proteins by 2030.
GFI Europe said that the government needs to “take bolder action” to develop sustainable proteins that are capable of reducing climate emissions by up to 92% compared to conventional meat.
The non profit organisation’s analysis found that UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the UK government's main research funding agency, has invested at least £43 million in sustainable protein research and development since 2012, two thirds of which has been since 2022.
UKRI's Innovate UK, alongside the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), announced plans to establish a £15 million Alternative Proteins Innovation and Knowledge Centre yesterday (31 August 2023).
However, the report states that plant-based meat has been neglected despite the UK being the second-largest market for these foods in Europe, while cultivated meat has received the most funding.
Precision fermentation, which uses organisms like yeast to produce ingredients such as real egg or dairy proteins, remains undeveloped compared to countries such as Israel and the United States, the report also found.
GFI believes that the UK could emulate the success of other green industries by creating sustainable protein industry ‘clusters’, with regional hotspots including the North East, Yorkshire and the Cambridge-Norwich corridor.
Recent Green Alliance research found that the UK’s sustainable protein industry could be worth up to £6.8 billion annually and create 25,000 jobs by 2035.
To achieve this, the GFI report’s recommendation of £390 million investment from the government by 2030 includes funding open-access research, business grants and a new sustainable protein catapult to support small businesses in the alternative protein sector.
Additional recommendations include giving the Food Standards Agency a £30 million funding boost in the 2023 Autumn Statement and overturning retained EU laws preventing plant-based dairy companies from using everyday language like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ to label and market products.
Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at GFI Europe, said: “The UK is home to dynamic food producers, world-leading scientists and a strong plant-based market – all the tools needed to build a globally competitive sustainable protein industry capable of reducing emissions, creating green jobs and making the country less reliant on imports”.
“The government promised to keep the UK at the forefront of this growing sector in last year’s food strategy, but it must act now to deliver on that ambition, including investing £390 million in research and giving the Food Standards Agency the resources it urgently needs. Failing to act risks the UK missing out on economic and environmental benefits as other countries race ahead.”