SPENDING energy battling plant-based meat alternatives over packaging labels makes no sense for Australia's livestock industries, against the backdrop of the massive opportunity that exists from growing global demand for protein overall.
The organisation set up to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace has spoken out on the current senate inquiry into vegan food labels, labelling it a distraction.
The Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, also known as FIAL, says while we are fussing about with definitions of meat, other nations are lining up their ducks to tap into the phenomenal potential emerging from fast-growing worldwide demand for all types of protein.
FIAL's managing director Mirjana Prica says the conversation needs to shift.
It needs to be about value adding, innovating, securing a large part of the world protein pie and finding the sweet spot that will ensure Australian food captures premiums, she says.
And it needs to be more collaborative. There is plenty of room on the dinner plate for all proteins, she said.
FIAL research shows that globally, per person protein consumption was 26 kilograms in 2018 and that is projected to lift to 33kg in 2025.
The global protein market could be worth up to $513 billion in 2025, 40 per cent of which would come from meat.
FIAL sees the senate inquiry as a battle for market share on Australian shelves and Ms Prica says that adds up to just a drop in the ocean given most of the emerging opportunity exists overseas.
"Yes we need clarity in definitions and truth in labelling but there are remedies to address those issues," she said.
"In the meantime the global protein market is growing fast and that's where our attention needs to be."
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There is a real possibility the senate inquiry will result in additional regulation, which FIAL believes would work against addressing the challenge of protein supply.
FIAL's research shows that since 2000, plant-based foods have supplied the largest amount of protein consumed in volume terms.
It's report 'Protein Market: Size of the Prize Analysis for Australia' suggests future protein supply may be influenced by four key trends.
They are: dietary shifts due to health and ethical reasons, governance and regulations, environmental constraints and technological advances.
Based on these trends, in 2025 plant-based protein will likely remain the dominant protein source in volume terms, while animal protein will be the largest category by value.
Plant-based protein and real beef had more common ground than differences, Mrs Pirca said.
"It's not one or the other, it's And," she said.