The government must invest £390m into the alternative meat market to avoid losing out on a world-leading position in the sector, according to a new report.
The Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe, a non-governmental organisation, has called on the government to support the plant-based and cultivated meat sectors with a major cash injection to support its science and tech superpower goals.
According to the report, called ‘Sustainable Proteins in the United Kingdom’, the UK risks losing out to international competitors if it does not increase public funding and iron out post-Brexit regulatory reforms.
The non-profit has suggested the government invest £78m into the alternative meat sector annually between 2025 and 2030.
Sustainable proteins include plant-based meat, which seeks to replicate animal products using fungi and other produce, and cultivated meat, which refers to meat products developed in a lab from animal cells without requiring farming and slaughtering.
“The UK is home to all the tools needed to build a globally competitive sustainable protein industry capable of reducing emissions, creating green jobs and making the country less reliant on imports,” said Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at GFI Europe.
“The government promised to keep the UK at the forefront of this growing sector in last year’s food strategy, but it must act now to deliver on that ambition.”
The institute pointed to additional research from Green Alliance that found the UK’s sustainable protein industry could be worth up to £6.8bn annually and create 25,000 jobs by 2035.
“Failing to act risks the UK missing out on economic and environmental benefits as other countries race ahead,” added Pardoe.
The government has already invested at least £43m in sustainable protein R&D since 2012, the bulk of which has come since last year, the report found.
Separate research, published in February by the Good Food Institute, found that investment into the UK’s cultivated meat sector grew by 400% in 2022.
In addition to the government’s R&D spend, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council granted £12m to the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA) at the University of Bath to develop new approaches to making food products.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told UKTN: “As set out in the Government Food Strategy, we support a thriving agri-food sector and consumer choice which includes backing our British farmers and a successful alternative protein sector.”