A majority of the largest companies in the world are working to advance plant-based protein in the Western diet, according to new report “The Future of Food” compiled by nonprofit Forum for the Future. The report analyzed the business activities of 132 of the world’s largest food companies to determine if they are working toward the Protein Challenge 2040—an international collaboration between NGOs and businesses to solve the dilemma of feeding the growing population while mitigating environmental damage caused by food production. Researchers found that 41 percent of meat and dairy producers (such as Smithfield, JBS, and Nestlé) are actively increasing the availability of plant-based protein either in their own product lines or through acquisitions and investments. The majority of food and ingredient manufacturers (79 percent), retailers (52 percent), and food service providers and restaurants (61 percent) are all adding plant-based meals to menus and portfolios, focusing on setting sales-based targets of plant-based foods, and making public commitments to expand their plant-based offerings. 

“We can be sure that the future of food will look very different and business as usual is not an option,” the report states. “Food businesses need to urgently future-proof themselves and their supply chains by moving beyond the current surge of product innovations to deliver integrated protein strategies that cover the production as well as consumption of protein and actively drive better outcomes for sustainability and nutrition.” To further tip the scales, the report outlines five key points companies must address to fully transform the food system: developing an integrated protein strategy; making public, time-bound commitments to change; embedding a sustainability ethos across their business models from top down; collaborating with companies already working toward sustainability goals; and engaging policymakers and institutions to become better advocates to fight the climate crisis.

Photo Credit: Smithfield 

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