National science agency CSIRO has produced a technology roadmap for growth in protein production in Australia, believing the opportunity is worth $13 billion.
Australian agricultural exports were worth around $50 billion in FY2021, and with that figure predicted to rise by 20% in FY22 to more than $60bn, options beyond beef are seen as the new frontier for the farm sector.
The report ‘Protein: A roadmap for unlocking technology-led growth opportunities for Australia’ also suggests the push could create up to new 10,000 jobs.
CSIRO’s venture capital arm, Main Sequence, has already been investing heavily in the alt-protein market via plant-based fake meat startup V2Food, a joint venture between Hungry Jacks billionaire Jack Cowin and the CSIRO, as well as backing climate change agritech Loam Bio’ss $40 million Series A.
FutureFeed, a startup spun out of the CSIRO to commercialise a seaweed-based additive to livestock feed in order reduce methane emissions, is also part of tackling the challenges faced in additional protein production.
Underpinning the agency’s think is the fact that with two billion more people expected to be on the planet by 2050, the world will need to produce more protein, more sustainably and from more sources.
The alternatives range from plant-based products, to turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals, developing higher-protein and better tasting legume crops, a new sustainable industry in Australian white-flesh fish, plus cultivated meat and edible insects.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said solutions from science can help create new markets.
“This will help shift Australia’s reputation from being the world’s food bowl of commodities to becoming a global delicatessen of unique higher value exports,” he said.
“CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission recognises the scale of this challenge and brings together a wide network of partners with the latest innovative technology to seize this opportunity for a resilient and sustainable food system.
“We can supercharge growth in our traditional protein industries by harnessing technologies like digital traceability and integrity systems that enhance the premium status of Australian red meat, and grow new complementary protein markets through techniques like precision fermentation to generate a suite of new Australian products.”
The CSIRO roadmap highlights how protein demand can only be met by bringing together animal, plant and non-traditional protein production systems.
Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre FIAL’s MD Dr Mirjana Prica, said the global demand for protein is a significant export opportunity.
“Australia has a real opportunity to have a thriving local food manufacturing sector, while becoming a leading exporter in value added traditional, plant, and novel protein products,” she said.
“Building domestic capacity and infrastructure to not only tap, but to build scale, for the plethora of protein opportunities is critical if we are to switch from importing ingredients to producing our own domestically.”
Download Protein: A roadmap here.