Despite fast growth, meat substitutes are a niche market

Over the last 10 years, the global market for meat substitutes grew by an astonishing average of 48 percent annually. But despite the industry being heralded as one of the big winners of the growing sustainability and health trends, its influence remains minuscule compared to traditional meat production.

In 2023, fresh and processed meat revenues are expected to reach almost $1.3-trillion globally, compared with just around $13-billion made in the meat substitute market. This is according to Statista’s Market Insights.

Makers of meat alternatives are feeling this discrepancy quite strongly right now in Italy, where a draft law took a first hurdle recently that would ban the sale of lab-grown meats, an innovative subset of meat substitutes.

According to the Guardian, the country’s largest farmers’ association has lobbied for the ban that could now come to a vote in the Italian parliament. The country’s health minister, Orazio Schillaci of the right-wing Meloni government, said that the ban was being pursued for health reasons – as the effects of lab-grown meat were still being researched – and to protect the country’s agricultural heritage.

Lab-grown meats have only been introduced to consumer markets in a limited fashion but are expected to expand their foothold once they become more widely available.

This is because their taste is more close to conventional meat than most substitutes available today. The meat is grown from animal cells in large vats filled with a growth medium.

While foods made with this technique have been given the green light by regulators in Singapore and have also been released in a limited capacity in Israel, other countries still have to legalise the new method.

Opposed to the situation in Italy, lab-grown meats are expected to reach market maturity in other countries soon. In the US, the FDA in November 2022 declared the products of a first lab-grown meat company fit for human consumption.

The company is now awaiting approval from the US Department of Agriculture before it will launch its first product, a chicken breast. Infographic: Despite Fast Growth, Meat Substitutes Are a Niche Market | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista