NSW Farmers calls for clarity on alternative protein products


The state's leading agriculture body has told a Senate Inquiry that plant-based proteins should be banned from using words like “meat”, “beef”, “lamb” and “milk”.

NSW Farmers told the Senate Inquiry into Definitions of Meat and other Animal Products that alternative proteins will be part of our future, but the word "meat" needs to be protected.

The organisation recommended that images of animals should be prohibited on alternative protein labels, that those labels should bear a clear statement declaring it is not “meat” or “milk”, and that those terms should only be used in reference to flavouring, i.e. “beef flavoured plant based burgers”.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said while there was a place for the alternative and plant-based protein sector, clear labelling was needed to protect existing industries.

"When you hear the word 'meat', you think cow or sheep or chicken," Mr Jackson said.

"There is a growing demand for non-meat alternatives and NSW Farmers supports further research and development into agricultural products including alternative proteins, but at the end of the day 'meat' means 'meat'.

"We believe there is room in the marketplace for both animal and plant-based proteins, but there needs to be clear labelling in place.

Research from the Australian Farm Institute shows that the demand for protein will be so great by 2050 that animal agriculture won’t be able to meet it alone, and alternative proteins will be complementary – rather than competitors – to traditional industries.

"We’re committed to growing our agriculture sector to $30 billion by 2030 and this will involve new opportunities such as alternative proteins," Mr Jackson said.

"But we must remember that demand for our world-class Australian meat both here and abroad is very strong, and we need to protect that reputation that has been built on by the R&D and marketing that industry and government has paid for."

In 2018-19 Australia’s red meat and livestock industry contribution to GDP totalled $17.6 billion, driven by the demand for protein from global markets. During that time, the Australian red meat and livestock industry employed approximately 434,000 people. The Australian alternative protein sector generated $150 million in Australian retail sales and supported 265 jobs during the same period.

The opportunities for our grain and horticulture producers to feed into the protein market are currently small but have the opportunity to grow considerably over the next 30 years.

Click here to view the NSW Farmers submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Inquiry into Definitions of Meat and other Animal Products. 


Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Media Contact:  Stephen Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | mudds@nswfarmers.org.au