PARIS, (Reuters) – French agricultural cooperative Limagrain on Tuesday said it is launching a new legumes business that aims to deliver plant-based food products from next year, betting on the fast-growing plant protein sector and a trend towards eating less red meat.
Many large agricultural companies, including Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and France’s Roquette have invested in plant proteins in search of higher profit margins that have helped them cushion the impact of sluggish commodity prices and trade war woes.
The global meat substitutes market generated revenue of $4.8 billion in 2018, and is expected to be worth $6.6 billion by 2024, as more consumers convert to veganism or cut down on red meat consumption, a report by Research and Markets has said.
Limagrain, a cooperative of more than 1,500 farmers in central France and majority shareholder of seed maker Vilmorin , said it could develop its legumes business through partnerships with start-ups or mid-range actors in the sector.
“If we want to go up to the end-product will need at some point to take over a business, create a new one or launch a transformation unit,” Limagrain Chief Executive Damien Bourgarel told a news conference.
“But it is far too early to tell, we are just beginning,” he added, stressing that it was a long-term project.
The group based in central France will start with nearly 1,000 hectares of land and a wide range of plants including peas, beans and chickpeas, it said.
“Depending on the outlet we will then see the best species and those that need to be developed,” Limagrain Chairman Pascal Viguier said.
Two people are working with top chefs to invent new plant-based food products for Limagrain.
“A lot of people are looking at this sector. We have to find our singularity,” Bourgarel said.
Limagrain had sales of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in the year to June 30, up 4% on year, with a net profit of 80 million euros, versus 75 million the previous year, it said.