While many think innovation in plant-based meat is a fairly recent phenomenon, companies, researchers and entrepreneurs have looking for ways to leverage plants as an alternative to animal agriculture since the sixties.
However, there’s no doubt the pace of innovation has accelerated in recent decades amidst a worsening climate crisis and a rising global population, and one way to quantify the innovation is through an analysis of the growth in intellectual property. And now, thanks to a new report published by researcher Roots Analysis, we can do just that.
According to the Roots report, the number of cumulative IP publications for plant-based meat has grown by nearly 3x over the past decade, going from 2,388 in 2012 to 7,126 by 2022. In addition, the growth in patent filings, granted patents, and amended patents (the three of which make up the bulk of IP-related publications) has grown nearly every year over the past decade, with the annual growth of publications going from just over one hundred per year for the decade prior to 2012, to around 900 per year in both 2020 (915 new IP documents) and 2021 (891 new documents).
According to the report, most IP documents in the plant-based meat space are patent applications (77.4%) and granted patents (18.7%). When breaking the documents down by region, Asia Pacific is responsible for over half of all IP (3,717), compared to about 18% for North America (1,277 documents) and Europe (1,310 documents).
While Asia Pac dominates in terms of the total number of patent filings and granted patents, the report points out that some of the most valuable intellectual property in the early market is owned by larger North American and European food companies. The report points to Impossible Foods, Cargill, Mars, and Solae as some of the leading IP stakeholders in plant-based meats.
The report also broke down the key phrases used within the intellectual property documents to give an idea of the focus of the innovation. The top categories of keywords within the filings are production methods, proteins, preparations, and products. The report also analyzed the various types of plant-based meats in which researchers and companies create intellectual property. Some of the different plant-based meat categories include plant-based seafood, structured/textured meat analogs, plant-based meat for pet food, processed meat analogs, amorphous meat analogs, and dehydrated meat analogs.
You can find out more about the report here.