Sustainable Proteins in the UK

The UK has a host of latent advantages, from innovative universities to dynamic start-ups, but risks losing momentum to international competitors unless it ramps up public funding and pushes ahead with regulatory reforms.

With strong political leadership, the UK could emulate the success of other green industries – with research by the Green Alliance think tank finding the UK’s alternative protein industry could be worth up to £6.8 billion annually and create 25,000 jobs by 2035.

A report outlines nine key policy priorities the government must focus on to make this happen, including:

  • Investing £390 million by 2030 to fund open-access research, business grants and a new sustainable protein catapult – enabling start-ups to prosper;
  • Giving the Food Standards Agency (FSA) a £30 million funding boost in November’s Autumn Statement to boost confidence in the sector, reducing the risk of start-ups moving overseas due to regulatory uncertainties; and,
  • Creating a level playing field by overturning retained EU food laws preventing plant-based dairy companies from using everyday language like “milk” and “cheese” to label and market their products.

The recent announcement that two public funding bodies will fund a new £15m alternatve protein research hub – the largest single public investment the UK has made in this area to date – is a positive step.

But to maximise the potential of this ground-breaking new centre and ensure the UK can enjoy the incredible environmental, public health and food security benefits of sustainable proteins, the government must do more to enable the sector to scale up.