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Press Release: New Report from Boston Consulting Group, Good Food Institute, and Synthesis Capital

  • Animal Agriculture Produces 15% to 20% of Green House Gas Emissions, More than Cars, Motorcycles, and Passenger Light Vehicles Put Together
  • In 2023, 18% of Car Sales Were Electric Vehicles
  • Plant-Based Meat Accounts for Only 1% of Meat Dollar Sales in US Retail
  • The Alternative Protein Industry Received $635 Million in Government Support in 2022, Compared with $40 Billion for Electric Vehicles

BOSTON, July 11, 2024—Growing the share of alternative proteins to half of the global protein market, including dairy, would reduce agriculture and land use greenhouse gas emissions by almost a third by 2050. It would mitigate 5 gigatons of CO2 equivalents annually, the equivalent of taking 50% of gas-fueled cars off the road. However, while the electric vehicle industry grew from 0.2% of total new car sales in 2012 to 18% in 2023, the alternative protein share of the protein market remains relatively small. Plant-based meat has hovered around 1% of total meat dollar sales in US retail for the past five years. These are among the findings of a new report being released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Good Food Institute (GFI), and Synthesis Capital titled What the Alternative Protein Industry Can Learn from EV Companies.

Animal agriculture produces 15% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 10% for passenger road transportation. But the alternative protein industry received only $635 million in government support in 2022, compared with roughly $40 billion in direct purchase subsidies for electric vehicles. This public commitment to electric vehicles has also stimulated significant private investment. By contrast, alternative protein companies raised one-eighth of the private capital of the electric vehicle industry from 2017 to 2023.

“Achieving mass adoption of alternative protein is an opportunity we can’t afford to miss in the drive to cut emissions and combat climate change,” said Elfrun von Koeller, BCG partner and managing director, and coauthor of the report. “There are many lessons that the industry, as well as governments and regulators, can learn from the successful electric vehicles sector, which also faced early hurdles to consumer adoption and expansion. If private companies, governments, and investors come together, they can lay the foundation for a food system that is more sustainable, as well as more secure.”

Emma Ignaszewski, Senior Associate Director, Industry Intelligence & Initiatives at the Good Food Institute, said, “Electric vehicles are a powerful climate solution that doesn’t require consumers to make significant behavioral changes. They simply offer a more sustainable swap-in for gas-powered cars. Alternative proteins offer a strikingly similar promise: enjoy your burger, but produced with far lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat. Securing public funding—which has been instrumental for EV innovation—is critical for alternative proteins to scale and compete with conventional meat on taste and price. And competing on these drivers of consumer choice is the blueprint for alternative proteins to help decarbonize the food sector, just as electric vehicles can help decarbonize the transportation sector.”

Rosie Wardle, co-founder and Partner at Synthesis Capital, said: “Government support for alternative proteins is gaining momentum, with policymakers across the globe recognizing the potential of the sector to generate significant benefits, including achieving climate commitments, ensuring food security, mitigating environmental damage, and boosting economies. However, much more support is needed for the sector to deliver on its potential. This new report offers insights into how stakeholders can advance the industry, in order to create a future where these products are no longer ‘alternative.’”

The study lists several lessons that the alternative protein industry can learn from the electric vehicle sector, including:

  • Innovating to achieve parity with animal proteins: Alternative protein producers must innovate to create products that match animal proteins in taste, texture, price, and convenience, making alternative proteins a choice rather than a compromise. Similarly, successful electric vehicle makers have made their vehicles competitive with gas-powered cars on price, range, and model selection.
  • Building a supportive public sector: Government measures can include setting ambitious targets for carbon reduction in the food system, enacting regulations to aid companies in bringing innovative proteins to market, and funding open-access research to help alternative protein makers collectively achieve scale.
  • Boosting public and private investment: As alternative protein companies seek to secure funding, they can apply lessons learned from the earlier experience of the electric vehicle industry. These range from investing to build resilient supply chains to securing both public and private funding to conduct high-risk, early-stage research.

The full report can be accessed here.

Media Contact:

Eric Gregoire

+1 617 850 3783

[email protected]

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.

Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.

About The Good Food Institute

The Good Food Institute is a nonprofit think tank working to make the global food system better for the planet, people, and animals. Alongside scientists, businesses, and policymakers, GFI’s teams focus on making plant-based and cultivated meat delicious, affordable, and accessible. Powered by philanthropy, GFI is an international network of organizations advancing alternative proteins as an essential solution needed to meet the world’s climate, global health, food security, and biodiversity goals.

About Synthesis Capital

Synthesis Capital is an investment manager based in London (UK) and investing globally in transformative food technology innovations, with a focus on the alternative protein ecosystem. The Synthesis team has been investing in the food technology sector since its nascency over a decade ago. Synthesis is currently investing out of a $300M venture fund, the world’s largest dedicated to food technologies.

by Rosie Wardle, Co-Founder and Partner