UK Must Invest £390M in Alt-Protein by 2030 to Boost Food Security & Stay Competitive

by Ella

UK Urged to Allocate £390 Million by 2030 for Alternative Protein Advancement to Enhance Food Security and Maintain Global Competitiveness

A recent report underscores the imperative for the UK to allocate £390 million ($493 million) in investment towards alternative protein development between 2025 and 2030, in order to secure a competitive edge in the flourishing global alternative protein sector. This comprehensive commitment encompasses plant-based, lab-grown, and precision-fermented varieties of meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs. The study’s release follows closely on the heels of another analysis, which revealed that the British alternative protein industry holds the potential to generate 25,000 job opportunities by 2035.


The Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe, an industry think tank, presents an array of nine policy recommendations across five fundamental areas with the aim of cultivating a robust and sustainable protein ecosystem within the UK. According to their proposal, the suggested funding amount, which translates to £79 million annually over a span of five years, would serve to stimulate the creation of ecologically conscious employment, reinforce domestic food security, and elevate the UK’s position to that of a scientific powerhouse. It is anticipated that this investment would facilitate open-access research, provision of business grants, and establishment of a novel sustainable protein platform, thereby paving the way for growth among small enterprises in this sector.


Cultivated Meat Emerge as Leading Contender in Alternative Protein Sphere
The study identifies cultivated meat as the foremost sector among the triad of alternative protein pillars, which include lab-grown, plant-based, and fermented options. Since January 2012, funding allocated to research and development in the domain of cultivated protein within the UK has aggregated to £20 million, in comparison to £15.4 million directed towards plant-based protein. Fermentation, in contrast, has yet to catch up, with a cumulative investment of £6.4 million for research and developmental endeavors.


A noteworthy observation is the proliferation of at least 23 companies devoted to cell-cultured meat within the UK, an arena that garnered more private financing during the previous year than the cumulative funding of all similar ventures in Europe.


Elaborating on the ascendency of cultivated meat, Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at GFI Europe, elucidated to Green Queen: “The latent scientific competencies in pivotal sectors such as stem cell biology and bioprocess engineering confer a competitive edge to the UK. The nation boasts a commendable track record of spawning cultivated meat enterprises from its academic institutions, which exemplifies the influential role played by public funding in fostering commercialization of sustainable proteins.”

Despite the UK’s position as the second-largest market for plant-based sustenance in Europe—marked by a £964 million expenditure on vegan meat and dairy products in the previous year—GFI Europe cautions that public research focused on enhancing the palatability and affordability of plant-based meat has been somewhat neglected. Pardoe contends, “While the UK harbors the requisite components to assume a pivotal role in propelling research towards rendering plant-based foods more delectable, wholesome, and economical for consumers, financial support has predominantly flowed into other, more entrenched realms of study, notably crop breeding and food science.”

Elevating the Outlook for Plant-Based Protein Production
The report urges greater scrutiny into the processes underlying plant-based protein production, encompassing advancements in fiber formation techniques and refinement of plant protein texturization methods like extrusion and electrospinning. This concerted research drive is projected to drive down production costs and augment the sensory attributes of vegan meat, thereby surmounting the two primary obstacles inhibiting consumer adoption of plant-based fare.

While the dimension of precision fermentation remains relatively underdeveloped within the UK, Pardoe posits: “Given the nation’s vantage point bolstered by biotechnological expertise and the government’s commitment to advancing engineering biology for a more sustainable world, the UK stands poised to harness the transformative potential of precision fermentation.”

Governmental Initiatives in the UK Alternative Protein Landscape
The UK’s preeminent research funding agency, UK Research and Innovation, has channeled at least £43 million into sustainable protein research since 2012, with a significant proportion of this funding materializing over the last year. In April, the government effectuated its most substantial investment to date within the alt-protein realm, granting £12 million for a research hub aimed at deciphering the intricacies of scaling up lab-grown meat production.

The UK science minister, Michelle Donelan, unveiled plans to accord primacy to engineering biology—the foundational technology underlying alternative proteins—in the ambit of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

A reference to alternative proteins as a means to achieve the 2050 net-zero target was included in the government’s recent Carbon Budget Delivery Plan. The document additionally advocates for augmented research and investment to surmount technological barriers and heighten consumer acceptance.

GFI Europe’s Blueprint for Policy Enhancement
The recommendations span five strategic pillars, encompassing political leadership, research and development, infrastructure, regulation, and equitable competition. Political leadership entails the affirmation of the aspiration to nurture and amplify sustainable protein production within the UK, accompanied by the formulation of a comprehensive national sustainable protein strategy.

The research and development pillar delineates the prescribed funding quantum, suggesting an average annual allocation of £49 million spanning the period between 2025 and 2030, with a subsequent increase to £78 million per annum to fortify the nation’s competitive position on the global stage.

In the realm of infrastructure, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and DSIT are urged to initiate or commission an evaluation of alternative protein infrastructure. This endeavor is intended to diminish the risk for private investment by allaying apprehensions through informed evaluation.

Regulation emerges as a paramount challenge for novel proteins. Post-Brexit, the UK is reevaluating its novel food regulations, a process that could expedite the approval of lab-grown and precision fermented foods. Notwithstanding, the nation presently relies on the regulatory framework established by the European Union. A report issued by Deloitte in June emphasized the necessity for an updated regulatory framework for novel foods.

Notably, Israeli cultivated meat producer Aleph Farms recently became the first entity to petition for regulatory clearance in the UK. Pardoe underscores that the existing UK regulatory framework is suboptimal for nurturing the growth of innovative sustainable food production methods. The report proffers recommendations for swift reforms in the novel foods framework to bolster confidence within the sector.

Furthermore, the GFI Europe report proposes that the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), tasked with regulatory approval in this sphere, should glean insights from the practices of regulatory bodies with a pronounced focus on innovation, both domestically and internationally. To ensure tangible budgetary growth and capacitate the FSA to fulfill its expanded post-Brexit role, the government is advised to infuse £30 million into the agency.

Underpinning the pillar of equitable competition, GFI Europe advocates for the elimination of extant constraints on labeling of plant-based dairy products. Antiquated EU laws inhibit vegan enterprises from utilizing terms like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ on product labels. The report underscores the importance of establishing an appropriate framework that facilitates transparent communication of product nature to consumers.

Safeguarding Momentum and Prosperity
These recommendations are pivotal for the UK to avoid relinquishing its momentum to other nations in the global alternative protein arena and to mitigate the risk of startups relocating abroad due to regulatory uncertainties.

Linus Pardoe stresses the significance of these policy alterations in the

context of maintaining the nation’s food security: “The UK currently imports over 3 million tonnes of soy, a substantial portion of which is designated for animal feed, in addition to significant meat imports annually. However, owing to the efficiency of sustainable protein production in terms of land and resource utilization, the sector could fortify local food production, thereby mitigating international competition for domestic farmers and ensuring responsible sourcing of our sustenance.”

Furthermore, the GFI Europe report points to a recent analysis conducted by the Green Alliance, which anticipates that, with strategic injections of investment and well-crafted regulations, the UK’s alternative protein industry could amass an annual value of £6.8 billion and foster the creation of 25,000 jobs by 2035.



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