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Positioning Australia for an additional $13 billion protein opportunity

With an expected two billion extra people on the planet to feed by 2050, coupled with changing tastes and dietary preferences, there is a growing demand around the world for more protein, produced more sustainably and from a wider variety sources.

Developed with government and industry, the ‘Protein: A roadmap for unlocking technology-led growth opportunities for Australia’ released in March 2022 identifies a $13 billion market opportunity for Australia to grow and diversify its high-quality protein products from various different sources.

Size of the prize for Australian protein by 2030

0.47 million more consumers since 2018 

65 million tonnes total domestic and export demand 

8.65 million tonnes additional demand compared to 2018

Source: Agrifutures

Source: AgriFutures

These days, we’re thinking more and more about the food on our plate and where it comes from.
And right now, menus are quite literally being rewritten across Australia and around the world in surprising, unexpected and delicious ways.
Our tastes are changing. The proteins we eat and how they are created are changing too.
With evolving dietary preferences, shifting consumer behaviour, and an extra two billion hungry mouths to feed by the year 2050.
The world needs to produce more protein, more sustainably, from more sources.
From the plate, right back to the paddock, Australia is creating a sustainable and resilient food system to put unique, innovative, and nutritious proteins on the global menu.
The protein market is poised for unprecedented growth, which means more choices for all of us in our favourite restaurants, at the supermarket and on our plates at home.
These opportunities for new, high-quality, differentiated proteins are significant, lucrative, and really exciting.
Like turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals
Developing more nutritious legumes, higher in protein, that taste even better.
Creating a new sustainable Australian white-flesh fish industry to reduce reliance on imports.
Using techniques like precision fermentation to make new yeast-based protein products
Innovating traditional protein industries to meet growing demand in Asia and implementing systems to digitally track origin, animal welfare and sustainability targets.
Developing new plant-based protein to leverage flexitarian dietary trends
And exploring non-traditional forms of protein like cultivated meat, edible insects, and even developing protein from the air.
Australian industries are in prime position to capitalise on increasing demand for proteins, with investments in new science, tech, and facilities.
Our National Science Agency CSIRO estimates that Australia could carve out a $13 billion slice of this expanding protein market, creating up to 10,000 new jobs and cementing Australian businesses as global leaders in producing new and innovative products.
A new era of protein production is upon us and the opportunity to put more innovative Australian proteins on the global menu has arrived.
And best of all, there’s a seat at this table for everyone.

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Australia: a global leader in high quality, value-added protein

Australia has traditionally been a strong exporter of bulk protein commodities, exporting about 70 per cent of what it produces – like grains, legumes and meat – however there is great opportunity to value-add to many of these products.

This can be achieved by both growing established products and markets, as well as developing new differentiated protein products.

This Roadmap identifies five strategic science and technology focus areas as well as five priorities to better guide industry activities, which will enable Australia to position itself as a global leader in this space.

Key to this strategy are ten growth opportunities that combine animal, plant and non-traditional protein production systems listed below:

  • integrity systems in the red meat sector to help verify the origin of production, support compliance, prevent risks and support research
  • expanding Australian red meat exports into new geographic markets
  • plant-based protein ingredients
  • crop-breeding and pre-breeding
  • turning lesser cuts of red meat into value-added protein powders and nutraceuticals
  • insect protein sources for food and feed
  • creating a new sustainable Australian white-flesh fish industry
  • new plant-based products
  • precision fermentation
  • cultivated meats.

Read the report

Australian protein industries at a glance 

492,000 kt of animal-based protein consumed globally.

5,000 kt meat 

> 4 billion eggs

Approximately 9 billion L milk produced 

Approximately 260 kt of fisheries products (including fish, crustaceans and molluscs) produced in Australia.

> $21 billion in exports of Australian animal-based proteins, including dairy and live exports.

28,000 businesses in Australian animal-based protein industries

Approximately 210,000 employed in Australian animal-based protein industries.

Approximately $10 billion in exports of grains, oilseeds and pulses

Approximately $3 million in exports of plant-based protein alternatives

Approximately 550 employed in the Australian plant-based protein alternatives industry.


  1. OECD (2021) OECD Agriculture Statistics. Viewed 11 January 2021, Covers beef and veal, pork, poultry, sheep and fish.
  2. See Appendix B protein snapshots.
  3. Counted as businesses with one or more employees operating in livestock farming, fisheries and aquaculture, hunting and trapping, meat and seafood
    product processing and manufacturing, and dairy product processing and manufacturing. ABS (2021) Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits. Viewed 11 January 2022
  4. Counted as 'sheep, beef cattle and grain', 'dairy cattle', 'poultry', 'other livestock', 'aquaculture', 'fishing' and 'hunting and trapping' industries. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (2020) Agricultural commodities and trade data - Australian economy - farm sector.
  5. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (2021) Agricultural commodities June quarter 2021: Value of agricultural,
    fisheries and forestry exports (fob), Australia.
  6. Food Frontier (2021) 2020 State of the Industry Australia’s Plant-Based Meat Sector.

Find out more

Want to learn more about Australia’s opportunities to become a global leader of protein production? Talk to CSIRO Futures about how we can help.

This report is part of CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission and was developed in consultation with key stakeholders in government, industry and the research sector across Australia’s agriculture and food system.

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