National Food Strategy calls for £125 million investment in sustainable proteins
15 July 2021
The National Food Strategy has called on the UK government to invest £125 million in sustainable protein startups and a new commercial “cluster” for the sector. Henry Dimbleby’s report finds that replacing processed meats with plant-based and fermentation-made options could achieve a 20% cut in UK meat consumption by 2030.
The National Food Strategy (NFS) has called on the UK government to invest £125 million in sustainable protein startups and a new commercial “cluster” for the sector. Henry Dimbleby’s report finds that replacing processed meats with plant-based and fermentation-made options could achieve a 20% cut in UK meat consumption by 2030.
The NFS sets out a plan for a 30% reduction in meat consumption over the next decade, to enable the UK to meet its climate targets. Research shows that moving towards plant-based meat would reduce emissions by 30-90%.
Elena Walden, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Until now, the burden of cutting meat consumption has too often been placed on individuals – so it’s refreshing to see the National Food Strategy focus instead on making sustainable alternatives the default choice.
“Plant-based and fermentation-made options can deliver all the flavour of meat at a fraction of the environmental cost – creating thousands of green jobs and enabling people to keep eating the foods they enjoy.
“Investing in this sector is no-brainer if the government wants to meet its climate targets without enforcing drastic diet changes. Ministers must deliver Henry Dimbleby’s plan to make the UK a world leader in sustainable proteins.”
The report calls on the government to make creating a better food system one of the first official “missions” of its new Innovation Strategy, by investing in £1 billion in research into areas such as plant-based proteins to position the UK at the forefront of this industry.
The NFS recommends £50 million of government investment in building shared facilities for a commercial “cluster” for entrepreneurs and scientists working on alternative proteins to encourage creativity and the cross-fertilisation of ideas. It also calls for £75 million of government grants for sustainable protein startups – made up of five annual grants of £15 million from the new Challenge Fund.
The report estimates that developing and manufacturing alternative proteins in the UK, rather than importing them, would create 10,000 new factory jobs and secure 6,500 jobs in farming. Without this investment, it warns: “We are in danger of missing a prime opportunity for green growth”.
The UK is already one of the biggest markets for sustainable proteins in Europe, with sales worth almost £640 million last year. Figures compiled by the Good Food Institute show private investment is also soaring – with British companies raising £41 million in 2020 and almost £38 million in 2019 – making up over 90% of the £86 million raised in the UK since 2006.
But to deliver on this sector’s potential to tackle the climate crisis, protect public health and feed more people with fewer resources, governments must invest in research and innovation to make them delicious, affordable and accessible to all.
The Good Food Institute Europe is calling on the government to make the UK a global leader in sustainable proteins by creating a National Strategy to build a favourable and dynamic research, regulatory and industry ecosystem between now and 2027. A national alternative protein coordinator should oversee the implementation of this strategy and ensure coordination between all relevant governmental departments.