Growth of Plant Based Food Paving the Way for Horticultural Opportunities

The growth of the plant based food sector is paving the way for more horticultural opportunities, according to the CEO of the Produce marketing Association (PMA). Cathy Burns, CEO at the PMA spoke to Hort Connections and explained that plant based proteins will make up 47 per cent of protein sources globally by 2020.

Hort Connections is a joint effort from AUSVEG and PMA Australia-New Zealand Limited and is an industry conference and trade show. Hort connections aims to halve waste and double productivity of the horticulture industry by 2030, with the boom of plant based food contributing to the level of productivity that could be increased.

Burns spoke of examples where soy and wheat are used to make meat alternative items, such as sausages, burgers and steaks and how these products are increasing the potential of the fruit and vegetable industry.

She continued to explain that all other areas of the industry are discussing this change; however, growers and producers need to be more involved. Burns said: “The scariest part of all is that the growth of plant based products is happening everywhere but in our (industry).

“So we think about what meat is doing, and all these centre store categories, they are adding plants as a main ingredient to their products. But we are the plant based product. So how do we tell our story? How do we get half the plate? How do we make a difference? Because what’s happening is everyone is leading the food conversation, and the plant food conversation, but us.”

The rapid increase of plant based foods and steady decline of the meat and dairy industry is allowing the opportunities for arable farmers and horticulture producers to increase their output. For example, 26 per cent of the world’s ice-free land is used for livestock grazing, according to the Food and Agriculture organization. As veganism and plant based diets continue to increase in popularity, this could change, with environmental concerns relating to animal agriculture being a prominent topic at the moment.

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