The market for alternative proteins – beyond fish and meat – will grow at 14% annually by 2024. Developers will race to explore new sources and create new formulations to mitigate the negative environmental impact of the existing protein supply chain, as total protein demand will double to 943.5 million metric tons in 2054, according to Lux Research.

Based on their nutritional content and commercial value, soybean, pea and oat have emerged as the dominant plant sources. Still, technology is key to improving protein flavor and creating new food and beverage products, or enabling them to be added to existing products.

“Alternative proteins will play a crucial role in meeting global protein demands and represents a lucrative opportunity for a variety of players to address unmet needs in this space,” said Joice Pranata, Lux Research Associate and co-author of the report titled, “Finding a Winning Formula for Alternative Proteins.”

Lux Research analysts evaluated the alternative protein market, placing sources on a 2x2 matrix, based on eight nutritional and commercialization criteria. Among their findings:

Three sources are poised to dominate. Of the 20 plant protein sources evaluated, soybean, pea and oat are poised to be dominant. Meanwhile lupin, chickpea, fava bean, flaxseed, cottonseed and hempseed are high-potential next generation leaders, with most hobbled for now by high cost, low availability or both.

Innovations are key to alternatives. Alternative protein sources are at an early stage of development and require innovation to succeed. Key advances include crop genetics to enhance quality and yield, or novel chemical and processing approaches to deliver novel ingredients that enhance flavors.

Formulation poses challenges. Formulation is key to market success, as seen in the rise of plant-based milk options. These products attract an increasing number of consumers, but need to be formulated properly to deliver the taste and feel they expect.