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Plant-based protein market predicted to be worth US$19.2 billion by 2028

November 7, 2023

The plant-based protein market is estimated at US$13.3 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach US$19.2 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 7.7% from 2023 to 2028 according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets.

Plant-based proteins have surged in popularity thanks to their diverse range of nutritional benefits, attracting individuals in search of a healthier and more sustainable protein source. These advantages encompass reduced saturated fat content, enhanced cardiovascular well-being, and improved weight management, which have all contributed to the increasing consumption of plant-based proteins. Many plant-based protein sources, including soy, peas, lentils, and beans, deliver ample protein without the accompanying cholesterol and excess calories often found in animal-based protein.

The growing prevalence of dietary restrictions and heightened awareness of the environmental impact of animal agriculture have prompted the exploration of plant-based protein alternatives. These alternatives provide solutions for individuals with dietary constraints due to ethical, health, or environmental concerns. Products such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan have gained popularity as they offer a nourishing and versatile substitute for meat and animal-derived protein sources. Moreover, plant-based proteins are increasingly enriched with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting overall health and well-being. Consumers are now seeking plant-based protein options that offer specific functional benefits, such as protein powders fortified with additional vitamins and amino acids to aid muscle growth and recovery.

In response to the escalating demand for plant-based protein choices, the market has diversified its offerings to accommodate various dietary requirements. This development is particularly pertinent for vegetarians, vegans, and those aiming to reduce their meat consumption. The plant-based protein market now encompasses a wide array of options, including plant-based burgers, sausages, protein-packed snacks, and plant-based dairy alternatives. Culinary innovation and flavor exploration have also taken center stage in this market, providing consumers with a delectable and savory range of plant-based protein choices. As the demand for plant-based proteins continues to soar, the market is evolving to offer an ever-expanding selection of environmentally sustainable and nutritious plant-based protein sources, facilitating the adoption of a protein-rich, plant-centric diet.

The liquid sub-segment in the form segment is estimated to grow at 9% during the forecasted period.

The traditional method for obtaining plant protein ingredients from legumes involves a liquid-based process that requires a significant amount of water and energy due to hydration. Legumes high in starch, like peas and beans, are separated by dissolving the protein and suspending the starch granules in water, while oil-rich sources, like soy and lupine, undergo solvent extraction to isolate the oil content. These ingredients are used in animal feed and can be further processed to obtain protein isolates, primarily finding applications in nutritional supplements and beverages, driven by the increasing global demand for plant-based protein as more people transition from conventional dairy and whey-based options. The convenience of liquid plant-based proteins, requiring minimal preparation compared to powdered alternatives, resonates with busy individuals looking for quick and nutritious meal options. Additionally, the versatility of liquid plant-based proteins in culinary applications, from enhancing smoothies and shakes to enriching soups, sauces, and dressings, further contributes to their popularity in the kitchen.

Soy source is estimated to dominate the by source segment in the plant-based protein market.

Soy protein is a highly popular plant-based protein source, with soybeans being processed into three main types: soy isolates, soy concentrates, and textured soy protein, all of which are rich in essential amino acids crucial for human nutrition. Additionally, soy protein offers various proven health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that consuming 25g of soy protein per day, as part of a low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet, can help lower the risk of heart disease.

As the demand for soy-based protein continues to rise, there has been a significant increase in soybean exports. In 2020, the value of US soybean exports to the global market reached a historic high of US$25.7 billion, representing a 40% increase in value and a 23% increase in volume compared to the previous year. This surge is attributed to the growing popularity of soybeans and soy-based protein.

Given the global demand for soy proteins, companies in the plant-based protein industry are actively working to strengthen their market presence through product development and the launch of new soy protein-based products. An example of this is Benson Hill Inc (US), which introduced TruVail, a range of soy protein ingredients suitable for use in bakery products, meat alternatives, and snacks, aiming to tap into the expanding market for alternative plant-based proteins.

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