March 30, 2023
From Vegconomist

The UK government today unveiled a new net zero plan which it was forced to draw up after its existing plans were deemed completely insufficient in terms of meeting climate goals by 2050. The newly compiled plan is again criticised by environmental groups as a missed opportunity failing to address the vital role of sustainable foods.

Surveys consistently reveal that UK consumers are interested in alternative proteins and are compelled to purchase foods that are less detrimental to the planet. A ProVeg survey from just last month found that 59% of the British public would like meat and dairy alternatives to be subsidised by the government to make them more affordable.

Biodiversity loss

Another recent study revealed that a focus on alternative proteins could halt biodiversity loss in the UK and help achieve the objectives of the UK’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023. The government fails to recognise or address such studies or the opportunities offered by their conclusions.

tall grass with flowers

Today’s announcements refer to sustainable proteins in the UK’s net zero research and development delivery plan for 2022-2025, repackaging an existing funding call from Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Experts at the Good Food Institute Europe state that today’s announcement is a missed opportunity to turn the UK into a world leader in sustainable proteins; a focus on plant-based and cultivated meat would slash the climate impact of meat by up to 92% while freeing up space for nature-friendly farming and reducing the UK’s reliance on imported animal foods.
A transition towards plant-based, fermentation-made and cultivated meat would help the UK to achieve its climate objectives, says the GFI.
© The Good Food Institute
“It’s welcome that the government recognises the need to invest in sustainable proteins in its new plan for net zero research and development, but there is no new money here. Plant-based and cultivated meat could help to satisfy consumers’ appetites for meat with up to 92% fewer emissions and 90% less land – freeing up space for more sustainable British farming,” argues Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe.

UK strategy is sorely needed

In response to a Parliamentary question in December, a minister said the UK government had invested £1.5 million in cultivated meat. Denmark, by comparison, has invested £141 million in the development of plant-based foods, while the Netherlands has invested £53 million in cultivated meat and precision fermentation.  
“A UK strategy for scaling these sustainable proteins is sorely needed if we are to keep pace with nations like Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. Today’s announcements mark another missed opportunity to create a roadmap for how the UK can lead the world in developing plant-based, fermentation-made and cultivated meat,” adds Pardoe.