Germany Follows the UK’s Lead on Investment in Alternative Protein Research

The German government has promised an investment of $41 million USD (€38 million) to promote plant-based foods and alternative proteins. Dr Zoe Mayer, an Alliance90/Green Party MP, announced the plan in mid-November. As a result, Germany will see a boost in funding for plant-based, precision-fermented and cell-cultivated proteins in the 2024 budget.

With the environmental and health impacts of meat becoming ever harder to ignore, Germany is the latest country to invest heavily in the transition towards a plant-based future. The post-Brexit UK has led the way in funding investment for research, which is to be followed by the EU in 2024, but has already been copied by some EU Members individually – in October Denmark unveiled a roadmap to make its food system more plant-based and the Swiss government has encouraged its citizens to reduce their meat consumption.

In Germany the new investment in alternative proteins finally pursues a strategy released a year ago in December 2022 by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). In it, BMEL stated that the strategy’s primary goal was to “promote healthier, more resource-conserving and more plant-based dietary choices.” Now, with the new announcement, the German government is putting its money where its mouth is, intending to fund the transition to a plant-based future in four steps:

  1. Assisting in phasing out animal husbandry and transitioning to plant-based, fermented and cell-cultivated proteins for human consumption (€20 million);
  2. Promoting innovative methods for the production and processing of plant-based, fermented, and cell-cultivated proteins (€10 million);
  3. Promoting the production of proteins directly for human nutrition rather than animal feeds (€8 million); and,
  4. Setting up a center to research future proteins and work with stakeholders.

Research has found that Germans are eating less meat than at any point since records began, with only 20% of Germans consume meat daily and 46% of people consciously limiting their meat intake.

To cater to this growing demand for vegan alternatives, and in contrast to the approach of other Member States such as France and Italy, farmers in the German state of Lower Saxony were recently offered incentives to move away from pig farming.

Cynics suggest that you can’t escape politics and the approach is driven by the knowledge that young people are at the forefront of the growth of veganism in Germany, with a rising awareness of the environmental and ethical problems of meat consumption.