The Big Business of Sustainable Food Production and Consumption: Exploring the transition to alternative proteins

Mylan, Josephine, Andrews, John and Maye, Damian ORCID: 0000-0002-4459-6630 (2023) The Big Business of Sustainable Food Production and Consumption: Exploring the transition to alternative proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120 (47). e2207782120. doi:10.1073/pnas.2207782120

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A widespread sense of the unsustainability of the food system has taken hold in recent years, leading to calls for fundamental change. The role of animal agriculture is central to many of these debates, leading to interest in the possibility of a ‘protein transition’, whereby the production and consumption of animal-derived foods is replaced with plant-based substitutes or ‘alternative proteins’. Despite the potential sustainability implications of this transition, the developmental trajectories and transformative potential of the associated technologies remain underexplored. This article sheds light on these dynamics by addressing two questions: 1) how have alternative protein innovations developed over the past three decades, and 2) what explains their more recent acceleration? To answer these questions, the article makes an empirical analysis of four alternative protein innovations, and the partial destabilisation of the animal agriculture system 3 between 1990 and 2021, guided by the Multi-Level Perspective. The analysis highlights an intensification in corporate engagement with alternative protein development and diffusion. This intensification is judged to be consistent with the beginnings of a wider corporate reorientation, occurring alongside a rise in pressures on the animal agriculture system, notably an increasing scientific consensus and societal awareness of the links between climate change and meat-intensive diets. The paper demonstrates how differences in technological maturity across the niche-innovations have resulted in potentially transformative pressures, which are consistent with an emerging sustainability transition, manifesting differently in terms of the extent of diffusion of the alternative protein niches.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alternative proteins; Animal Agriculture; Meat; Multi-level perspective; Sustainability transition
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB175 Food crops
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Depositing User: Bee Ray-Smallcalder
Date Deposited: 11 May 2023 15:35
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 12:37

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