Protein types

Sustainable proteins

Animal protein producers face a range of sustainability risks. By diversifying into sustainable proteins, these businesses can hedge these risks and seize opportunities by entering a fast-growing market.

Key stats

For the first time, 15/60 companies show evidence of some work to increase their access to alternative protein sources

The 60 companies assessed by the Index are some of the world’s largest producers of meat, fish and dairy. Their success is dependent on increasing consumption of animal proteins, particularly driven by emerging markets. Yet the most advanced scientific consensus – including through the IPCC – is that even current levels of consumption of animal proteins pose a profound threat to human and planetary health.

As the Index demonstrates, animal protein producers are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, from lower feed availability and animal productivity through to increased disease risk and infrastructure damage from extreme weather. For meat, dairy and fish producers, diversifying to produce animal and alternative proteins presents an opportunity to mitigate risks while preparing for market and technological disruption.

In the first edition of the Index in 2018, we provided a qualitative assessment of companies on this factor. Our initial analysis showed that only five of the 60 companies accounted for the emergence and growth of the alternative proteins sector.

In 2019, we built on this to introduce an ‘opportunity factor’ that quantifies a company’s exposure to alternative proteins. Leading producers, such as Maple Leaf Foods, recognise protein diversification as a way to reduce risk and volatility while seizing market opportunity, and consequently are beginning to broaden their product offerings.

We assess all companies on whether they have alternative protein products on the market, plan to expand their alternative product offering, communicate this activity to stakeholders as a material business issue and set targets and metrics to grow this part of the business.


  • For the first time, 15 of 60 companies (25%) show evidence of some work to increase their access to alternative protein sources
  • In 2019, 11 companies announced investments to grow their alternative protein portfolio
  • Meat companies are beginning to make bold statements on protein diversification