Alternative proteins focus of B+LNZ project

Sam McIvor.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is leading a project to assess potential red meat sector responses to alternative protein advances.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the organisation, on behalf of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, wants to better understand the shifts in food and food production technology. This will include identifying the threats and in particular the opportunities for the sector – and how to address them.

“We want to distinguish hype from reality and have an objective view on what’s happening in the alternative protein space.

“That will mean better understanding the technologies, business models and how quickly advancements are being made that could impact the New Zealand red meat sector.”

McIvor says the current view from commentators was that alternative proteins was being positioned as a premium product today but that could change tomorrow.

“For example, if the price to produce these foods comes down in the future it could have an impact on the likes of hamburger meat. That could be a risk for the sector, given a large percentage of New Zealand processing beef currently goes to quick service restaurants.”

Another part of the project will be to gather a deep understanding of what consumers think about alternative proteins and their acceptance of them.

“We want to understand their perceptions, choices and the trade-offs they might make in the future.”

 McIvor says B+LNZ will be reaching out to other organisations with food technology and consumer insight experience, that have a deep knowledge and exposure to what’s happening in places like Silicon Valley and the Netherlands where protein alternative technologies and investment are being heavily focused today.

B+LNZ expects to identify its project partners by the end of the month.

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