New research study delivers insights on the $14bn alternative proteins (AP) market, what is holding it back — and how knowledge discovery platforms, combined with advances in microbiome science, could make a significant impact
Eagle Genomics, a pioneer in applying network science to biology, has today released a piece of independent analysis, The Rise of Alternative Proteins and their Influence on Human Health and Wellness: Understanding the Role of the Microbiome. The White Paper reports on the important link between the microbiome and the fast-growing field of plant-based alternative proteins, but also to insect, microbial protein and cultured meat sources.
The alternative proteins (AP) market is a USD $14 billion global market and could expand to over $27 billion by 2027. That growth is being driven by rising consumer interest in plant-based protein alternatives and a global interest in driving sustainable solutions. One major challenge, the study uncovers, is accurately understanding the nature of the scientific status of product and market claims about alternative proteins’ health benefits, including effects on the microbiome.
With the complex interactions that are found in the microbiome, which also extend to its hosts and surrounding environment, the microbiome’s “hidden” ecosystem can consist of up to 100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells (such as bacteria) inside every human being. In addition to the microbiome found within our bodies, microbial systems themselves can also be cultured and harnessed to generate novel AP products, for example through biomass, or through the expression of proteins in cell culture. The microbiome is therefore essential to delivering as well as receiving nutritious and attractive AP, now and in future. Given the complexity of the microbiome and its associated data, Eagle Genomics’ researchers point to a rising trend in the application of network science to microbial science in the paper, and in the increasing deployment of AI-augmented platforms as the most reliable way for scientists to explore these complex, multi-dimensional datasets.
The report also highlights how evidence-based health benefit and safety claims for new AP products can be better expedited and supported — as well as the size of the research problem: “There are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of links between different body and cell processes and the various microbiomes, with influential links to our diets including our sources of protein.”
As Dr Joshua Anthony, Eagle Genomics Advisory Board member and author of the White Paper’s Foreword, said: “Plant-based and other AP should be developed to deliver better nutrition and product experiences to the consumer. The development process could be expedited and made more cost-effective by bringing together ingredient suppliers, food and nutrition companies — along with a strong data platform to inform and facilitate innovation.”
Anthony Finbow, CEO, Eagle Genomics, said: “Gaining a better understanding of complex biological systems such as the microbiome, including studying and identifying product opportunities for microbiome-based solutions and benefits, including for AP, can be achieved by applying one of the most promising approaches — network science. Such an approach can be realised by using an AI-augmented knowledge discovery platform like Eagle Genomics’ e[datascientist]™.
“We feel that this White Paper is timely, for both the recent AP convert, as well as for the rapidly-growing novel food sector trying to develop sustainable and healthy food solutions for our planet’s growing population. At Eagle Genomics, we are striving to enable the digital reinvention of science to drive the generative economy — including helping to solve the world’s Grand Challenges.”
Meet the Eagle Genomics team at Future Food-Tech in San Francisco on March 24-25. Hear Anthony Finbow speak live on the panel discussion ‘Functional Ingredients: Creating Accessible and Nutrient-Dense Foods’ at the summit.