01 February 2021

Grass beef

Over the year, Russians ate 2.6 billion rubles worth of artificial meat

Tatiana Romanova, Forbes, 31.01.2021


Analysts of Deloitte Consulting for the first time evaluated the market of alternative meat in Russia. According to the company, now it is only 0.7-0.8% of the European one, but it has a huge potential: about 47% of Russians aged 16 to 40 are already ready to diversify their protein diet with plant-based meat.

In the next five years, according to forecasts of Deloitte Consulting, the artificial meat market will grow by at least 10% per year. Both small startups and large agricultural holdings have engaged in its production in Russia. The American Beyond Meat was the first to loudly declare itself, among whose investors are Microsoft founder Bill Gates, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson. The company works since 2009, but Russia came only in spring 2019 – then its burgers with vegetable meat began selling restaurant holding White Rabbit Family of Boris Zarkova. By autumn, Beyond Meat products appeared in the retail chains "Azbuka Vkusa", "Lenta", "Platypus", "Garden City" and "Crossroads". Pizza Hut, TGI Friday's and Teremok restaurant chains experimented with vegetable meat of the American company.

"Products made from vegetable proteins could always be found in Russia, but the popularization of this category of goods is associated with the release of Beyond Meat here," says Andrey Sizov, director of the SovEcon analytical center. – The supply of products of this company began to form a new market in Russia. Replacing traditional meat with vegetable meat is a Western fashion that reached our country a few years later."

An artificial product from an American company cost much more in Russian retail than a natural one. For example, at TGI Friday's, a burger with a vegetable patty was sold for at least 499 rubles, and a classic one for 349 rubles. A package of two Beyond Burger cutlets weighing 227 g in the "Abc of Taste" costs 1200 rubles. According to Mauro Emanuele Buongiovanni, director of Deloitte Consulting for consumer goods, currently alternative meat products in Russia with a price of 4500-6000 rubles per kilogram are too expensive for mass introduction. But cheaper options are already appearing on the market.

In 2019, Artem Ponomarev and Yulia Marcel founded the company Greenwise, which now produces artificial meat from soy, wheat and peas in the city of Maloyaroslavets, Kaluga region. Today there are three products in the Greenwise line: vegetable fillets, jerks and strips. Two more (cutlets and sausages) they are preparing for launch. Products under the new brand are sold in 1800 locations across Russia, including in stores of the Vkusville, Azbuka Vkusa and Perekrestok chains.

According to the representative of the company, semi-finished products from Greenwise are sold in the region of 350 rubles for 200 g.  

Last summer, Efko, a manufacturer of Sloboda mayonnaise, announced an investment of 100 million rubles in the production of vegetable-based burger patties. The product was developed on the basis of the Biryuch-NT center, which is part of Efko, where the protein was created on the basis of soy. The capacity of the pilot line is 500 kg per month. According to Andrey Zyuzin, CEO of Efko Innovations, the products were tasted in public catering (for example, in Subway and Dodo Pizza), and "consumer interest in the product was high." Now it can be bought in ten non–chain retail stores in Moscow and the region, the cost is about 1000 rubles per kilogram.

At the same time with Efko, the Welldone company was launched, which received 60 million rubles of investment from a venture fund founded by the co-owner of the Nizhny Novgorod Oil and Fat Combine (NMZHK) at the beginning of 2020 Ivan Sidork. In the summer of 2020, the product was tested in Moscow cafes and restaurants. Chefs of more than twenty cafes and restaurants in Moscow have introduced Welldone vegetable meat to the menu – from street food such as burgers and shawarma to gastronomic dishes like chili con carne and pasta bolognese. The company's production lines are designed to produce 15 tons of products per month (150,000 cutlets), and soon investors plan to move on to the next stage – the construction of a large production facility with a capacity of 200 tons of artificial meat per month in the Moscow region. At the end of last year, Welldone products appeared on the shelves of Globus, Lenta, Azbuka Vkusa, as well as in Yandex.Shop and Scooter, a package of two cutlets (200 grams) now costs 209 rubles.

Rusagro is also carefully studying the market and planning the production of vegetable meat substitutes. The demand for such products is obvious, says Svetlana Kuznetsova, Director of Investor Relations and Sustainable Development at Rusagro, but at the same time notes that in the coming years the market will be niche and its size will be insignificant compared to traditional types of meat.  

"The idea to start the production of vegetable meat is not only a matter of responsible attitude to the environment, but also the growth of demand from the consumer, the issue of his active longevity and quality of life," explains the head of Efko Innovations Andrey Zyuzin, the release of new products for the company. –People are concerned about the growth of diseases and allergic reactions, some of which are caused by the excessive presence of growth hormones in traditional meat, as well as antibiotics in the diet of livestock feeding, which inevitably fall into the human diet. Consumption is becoming more conscious. After all, more than 60 billion heads of livestock and poultry are slaughtered in the world every year, despite the fact that in general about 30% of the food produced is thrown away. In addition, we cannot but be concerned about the entry of international competitors into the market."

The global market for natural meat, according to IDTechEx, was estimated at $2 trillion in 2019. Sales of vegetable meat in the world last year amounted, according to Deloitte estimates, to about $11.5–12 billion, and by 2025 this market, according to the company's forecasts, will reach $28 billion. The volume of the global market for alternative meat of all types will grow to $30 billion in the next five years. The growth will be achieved primarily due to the European market, where 38% of all produced alternative meat was sold last year. Among the major markets, Deloitte also names the USA (27%), the countries of the Asia-Pacific region (23%) and Latin America (12%).

Deloitte divides the alternative meat market into two groups: vegetable meat and cellular meat. Vegetable meat is a product that imitates the appearance, taste, color, smell and consistency of traditional meat and fish analogues. It is produced on the basis of vegetable proteins: soy, peas, wheat gluten.

Another analogue of natural meat is cellular meat "from a test tube". Cells prone to reproduction (for example, embryonic or stem cells) are removed from the animal, then grown with protein additives in a bioreactor. Another alternative animal protein is the protein of insects and worms. But this product is not taken into account by Deloitte due to an insignificant market share.

The world market of cellular meat is also insignificant, last year its volume did not exceed $ 14-15 million. The main problem for which it is not developing is the ban on retail sales of cellular meat in the world, Buongiovanni believes. Each country has its own regulatory body in the field of food products, the expert continues, but so far no one has developed a clear regulatory framework for cultured meat, which is technically considered a "new food product".

Singapore became the only country in the world that allowed the sale of lab-grown meat.

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