Plant-based ‘meat’ craze drives demand for yellow peas

Plant-based ‘meat’ craze drives demand for yellow peas (FT)

  • Yellow pea protein is rapidly becoming a key ingredient in plant-based meat, driven by an increasing demand for ‘clean label’ (i.e. non-GMO and/or organic) proteins. As a result, consumption is growing at the expense of soyabeans; from 275,000t in 2015 to an expected 580,000t in 2025.
  • Food companies are investing to catch up with the demand: Cargill, for example, has signed a joint venture with Puris and has invested $25m, while Roquette, the global leader in plant-based ingredients, is building a processing plant in Canada.
  • Despite the rapidly growing demand, the price of pea protein has not inflated and currently oscillates between $4,200-$4,600 per tonne (vs. $3,500 for soyabean protein isolate).
  • However, companies such as Beyond Meat are reporting difficulties in securing long-term supply deals, as suppliers are reluctant to guarantee higher quantities at lower prices.

Analysis and Comments

  • This is one of two plant-based/ foodtech articles published in the FT this week, the other being an analysis of the consumption of ‘alternatives’ in the US during Independence Day week.
  • Notably, the article (based on Nielsen data) finds that sales of fresh beef ticked up 2.1%, while plant-based meat alternatives (e.g. meatless hotdog sausages) rose  11%, highlighting the on-going consumer shift that is impacting the global food industry.
  • No surprise therefore that the market for pea protein is expected to remain tight over the next few years, despite the increasing number of food and ingredient companies investing in the sector.
  • Interestingly, Nielsen also found that sales of other (drink) alternatives such as canned wine leapt 57% and ‘hard seltzers’ (sparkling water infused with alcohol) increased 150%, while beer sales decreased 1.6% from 2017 levels.

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