A new representative group for Australia’s alternative protein sector has been launched. It will represent the sector in national policy discussions and ensure a collective voice for the burgeoning industry.
Australian alternative protein think tank Food Frontier’s director of policy and government relations Sam Lawrence said establishing the Alternative Proteins Council (APC) now, marks an important step in the sector’s evolution.
“The plant-based meat sector has taken a collaborative and evidence-based approach to best serve the interests of consumers around issues including product labelling.
“The APC formalises our collaboration to support the 29 companies comprising Australia’s alternative proteins sector to engage at a national level on policy issues, enabling the sector’s shared vision and continuing to serve Australians who enjoy alternative protein products.”
Food Frontier will act as secretariat for the APC. Founding companies include Sanitarium, ProForm Foods, v2food, Rogue Foods, Nestlé Australia and Impossible Foods. Additional companies will join in coming months, Food Frontier said.
Lawrence said a unified voice was important for the fast-growing sector.
In September 2020, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud held a roundtable to discuss the labelling of plant-based products and established a working group on the topic.
At the time Littleproud said he wanted all agricultural industries to grow and succeed but “for this to happen we need a fair playing field on food labelling”.
“I am sympathetic to concerns from producers of genuine meat and dairy products who are forced to contend with highly creative, and sometimes misleading advertising and labelling of plant-based foods and drinks.”
Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) valued the Australian plant-based meat industry (so just one part of the broader alternative proteins sector) at $185 million. Its moderate scenario forecast the domestic industry to be worth almost $3 billion in sales by 2030.
Food Frontier’s recently released State of the Industry report on plant-based meats found a 46 per cent increase in grocery sales and a doubling of products on the shelves, manufacturing revenue, and employment in FY20.
The initial working group concluded its discussion paper on 18 March with recommendations sent to the minister.
The working group found that consumers are not misled by existing labelling, a finding consistent with the earlier Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation of 15th November 2019.
Food Frontier said the plant-based products sectors offered to voluntarily develop labelling guidelines, consistent with Australian Consumer Law, to ensure both consumers and manufacturers have a clear guidance document for reference. It is likely that these will be developed in coming months by a new working group.
Food Frontier affirms the importance of clear and accurate labelling that informs consumers, and anticipates playing an active role in the new working group to develop voluntary guidelines, on behalf of all members of the Alternative Proteins Council.