Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) has released a new report highlighting the importance of enhancing food security for communities by leveraging scientific and research advancements in alternative protein. It navigates the expected changes in Agri-food systems (AFS), which currently provide jobs for approximately 1.23 billion people, supporting 3.83 billion individuals in households linked to AFSglobally.

Titled "Mission possible food security – A role for alternative proteins”, the report is part of the Dubai Future Foundation’s series of reports and initiatives to enhance the readiness of key sectors for future challenges and opportunities. This effort strengthens Dubai’s position at the forefront of global cities in future preparedness.

The launch was announced during an event hosted by the Dubai Future Academy in collaboration with Dubai Municipality and "Food Tech Valley", with the participation of experts, scientists, researchers, specialists, and startups working in the field of future food, food production and innovative technologies, processes, and governance in the UAE and globally. The event aimed to discuss the potential of technology-based solutions as sustainable alternatives. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to sample foods produced using futuristic techniques.

Global Transformations

The report emphasised the importance of the role of all stakeholders in the food value chain, including government, regulatory bodies, companies, and consumers, in exploring opportunities for innovation and development in future food production systems to ensure food security. This is especially crucial given estimates that 374 million tonnes of meat will need to be supplied by 2030 due to rising average incomes and the expected massive population growth. Meanwhile, the production of cultured meat is projected to reach 2.1 million metric tonnes by 2030, with the market value reaching US$25 billion.

Plant-Based Meat

According to the report, the market share of the plant-based meat sector in the food industry has seen a significant increase. It is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 20.6 percent by 2030. Plant-based meat have become a well-known and available alternative to traditional meat, sourced from plants or fungi to mimic the taste and texture of animal meat.

Abdulaziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, stated, "The aim of launching this knowledge report is to initiate effective dialogues and discussions about the importance of developing and utilising innovative technologies in food production and regulation. This will help leverage promising opportunities in this sector and address its challenges, such as environmental impact and carbon footprint. It supports resource efficiency and establishes sustainability practices within future foods production, in line with the UAE's national food security strategies."

He added, "The report addresses several key priorities, including supporting emerging, promising, and ambitious projects in food innovation and modern agricultural technology. It also highlights the importance of utilising artificial intelligence and bioengineering applications in this field. Moreover, it emphasises the need for developing new and current regulations and governance principles, while updating investment conditions, health and safety standards, and the required environmental considerations. This will ensure proper and productive future food production."

The report stated that nearly 57 percent of the companies focused on fermentation for alternative proteins were founded in the past three years. All-time investment in the sector is estimated at around $5 billion between 2016 and 2022. The global precision fermentation industry generated revenues of $1.3 billion in 2021, and its revenues are expected to reach $34.9 billion by 2031.

The report includes several recommendations to ensure the sustainable growth of the alternative protein sector. These recommendations emphasise the need for new food products to meet all health and safety standards meticulously and accurately. It also calls for the establishment of appropriate legislation and the development of clear guidelines governing all stages of the commercialisation process. Additionally, the report highlights the importance of increasing investments and funding to support large-scale production of alternative proteins using sustainable technologies, such as renewable energy. Engaging with consumers is also crucial to ensure that products are culturally and socially appropriate and that new technologies meet the needs of communities worldwide.