Following six successful years of engaging companies on the need to diversify their protein portfolio, FAIRR has closed its Sustainable Proteins engagement. Building on key learnings, integrating the latest scientific guidance, and acknowledging market changes, FAIRR is pleased to launch its Protein Diversification engagement with 20 global food manufacturers and retailers.
Companies in this engagement have exposure to animal protein supply chains, leaving them susceptible to operational, financial, and regulatory risks. Their combined market influence can improve sustainable sourcing practices and drive healthier and more sustainable consumer habits. While companies have made progress in offering alternative protein sources1, they are failing to align this with their climate and health strategy. Companies will benefit from quantifying the climate mitigation potential of protein diversification, setting informed protein diversification targets, and integrating these targets into their climate transition plans. They will also benefit from a clear evidence-based marketing strategy to drive demand for alternative protein products in support of a shift to a healthier and more sustainable diet.
The Protein Diversification engagement asks companies to (i) support the transition to a planetary health diet through the integration of protein diversification into climate strategies; (ii) allocate resources to diversify their protein portfolio and improve nutrition and sustainability attributes; (iii) engage consumers to promote the uptake of nutritious and sustainable alternative protein sources.
1 For the purposes of the Protein Diversification engagement FAIRR defines alternative protein sources as products produced from plant-based and/or novel protein sources. Plant-based protein includes whole foods, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, traditional fermentation products (i.e. tempeh) as well as biomass fermentation. Novel protein sources include but are not limited to precision fermentation and cultivated products.
The overconsumption of animal protein products in Western high-income countries is driving sustainability and health challenges. This initiative will engage twenty of the world’s largest food manufacturers and retailers, who have a key role to play in shifting consumer behaviour in these markets, to enable a global sustainable food system transformation.
The food system significantly contributes to climate change and biodiversity loss. Animal agriculture alone is responsible for nearly 20% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and in Brazil, cattle ranching accounts for 72% of deforestation. Moreover, the excessive consumption of animal proteins poses threats to public health. The routine use of antibiotics in livestock, for the sake of growth promotion and prophylaxis, is closely linked to the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), resulting in over a million deaths annually. Additionally, the consumption of red and processed meat has been associated with non-communicable diseases such as strokes and diabetes.
Companies heavily reliant on animal proteins face multiple risks. If the current trajectory continues, the cost increase in 2030 due to the impact of feed prices could rise by up to 15% across all animal protein sources, impacting profit margins throughout the value chain. Furthermore, engagement companies, on average, derive a third of their Scope 3 emissions from animal agricultural supply chains, leaving them vulnerable to carbon taxes.
To address these risks, companies can take action by diversifying their protein portfolios. Both the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Eat-Lancet Commission advocate for the increased consumption of plant-based foods and a reduction in reliance on animal-based proteins. This shift would not only help mitigate the climate impacts of the global food system but also improve public health.
Investors Signed On
Phase 1 of the engagement is supported by 65 investors, representing more than US $9.5 trillion in combined assets.