Why can't the alternative become mainstream? : Unpacking the barriers and enablers of sustainable protein innovation in Brazil

de Moraes, Camila Colombo and Claro, Priscila Borin and Picanço Rodrigues, Vinicius (2023) Why can't the alternative become mainstream? : Unpacking the barriers and enablers of sustainable protein innovation in Brazil. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 35. pp. 313-324. ISSN 2352-5509 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2022.11.008)

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Animal agriculture and the meat industry raise serious concerns regarding environmental, social, and animal welfare issues. The alternative protein industry has progressed globally, driven by circular economy practices, but the innovations in this industry need to be understood for further advances in circularization. This study examines the key enablers and barriers influencing alternative protein innovation in Brazil—a uniquely positioned country that can lead the global food transition towards alternative proteins. We conducted online semi-structured interviews with 18 experts from organizations operating in the alternative protein sector. The results show that tax incentives, access to funding, and opportunity costs are important external factors that drive alternative protein innovation. Culture, especially related to eating habits and preferences can be used strategically to increase alternative protein consumption in line with the transition to bioeconomy. Human capital, specifically technical and soft skills, matters only when there is access to (financial) resources. Social capital can overcome some barriers by sharing resources, improving partnerships to explore biodiversity, and expanding the entrepreneur network. Many of the barriers and enablers identified takes the form of a public problem, in which the organizations and stakeholders should develop a shared understanding about the most sensitive and urgent topics requiring action. We contribute to the literature on sustainable food systems and circular agri-food chains by providing insights into how to incentivize and streamline the consistent development of innovative products and technologies in Brazil by informing both overarching public policies and sector practices.