The alternative protein sector in Catalonia comprises 103 companies, collectively generating €269 million in revenue. This emerges as one of the key findings from the 'The alternative protein sector in Catalonia' study, offering the first comprehensive analysis of this field, which is forecasted to undergo further expansion in the coming years.
It represents a strategic sector with promising growth prospects: a global market estimated to reach $1 trillion by 2040. In this regard, Catalonia has already established a diverse value chain aimed at capturing a share of this market.
Within the scope of the report, alternative proteins comprise products that are a substitute for animal-derived foods, such as plant-based versions of meat or dairy, fish and seafood substitutes, cell-cultivated meat, and emerging protein sources like insects, mushrooms, or algae.
In this regard, the study highlights that the growth of this sector is attributed to the expanding global population and reflects an upward trend in consuming more plant-based foods. In fact, global sales of these products have surged from $21 billion in 2017 to over $27 billion in 2022.
Key data on the alternative protein sector in Catalonia
According to the document, the 103 Catalan companies dedicated to alternative protein generate 916 job positions. The report covers businesses exclusively devoted to alternative protein products (plant-based foods or insects), as well as others within the meat or dairy sector with lines of plant-based products. Additionally, it includes companies specialized in ingredients for enhancing food taste, aroma, and texture, along with those focusing on supplements, among other areas.
The sector is in clear expansion, with 36.9% of the companies involved being less than ten years old and over two-thirds (68%) classified as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Furthermore, 10.7% of these companies are startups. However, it operates within an international context: nearly 70% of these companies are exporters (with over half doing so regularly), and 14.6% are Catalan subsidiaries of foreign companies.
Moreover, the study emphasizes that Catalonia's alternative protein ecosystem is not only made up of producers but also includes business organizations and associations, clusters, technology transfer platforms, and incubators. It also involves universities, research centers, as well as trade fairs and conferences like Alimentaria or Biocultura, which focus on this area.