TRADINNOVATION - Bioeconomy innovations in traditional sectors: the example of three innovation lines in meat analogues




The transformation process towards a bioeconomy cannot be limited to research-intensive sectors alone if the bioeconomy is to make significant contributions to overcoming challenges such as climate and environmental protection, sustainable resource use and food security. Transformation must also take place in traditional economic sectors, such as the livestock and meat sectors as part of the food industry.

A growing world population and increasing prosperity are leading to rising demand for meat and animal foodstuffs. An expansion of agricultural animal production would increase its negative effects on the environment, climate, animal welfare and human health. Therefore, meat analogues are being developed to provide high quality protein for human nutrition. Meat analogues are products that imitate meat and meat products as well as possible, but are not made from slaughter animals.



The project aims to deepen the understanding of innovation and transformation processes of the bioeconomy in traditional sectors from the interdisciplinary perspective of innovation research.

After a review of the state of research, three innovation lines with relevance for the livestock and meat sector will be investigated: i) plant proteins, ii) insect proteins and iii) cultured meat. These innovation lines are expected to provide meat analogues for the sustainable protein supply of a growing world population. Based on the analysis of the technological innovation systems (TIS) and their economic, ecological and social impacts, the interactions of the three TIS will be investigated and their functionality and problem-solving potential evaluated. Since the innovation lines are partly attributed with the potential to replace unsustainable structures and practices (exnovation) in the livestock and meat sector, the extent to which the sector integrates the innovation lines into its innovation activities or opposes them is examined from the multi-level perspective of transformation research. Options for action and recommendations for overcoming the weaknesses of the TIS, for realising the potential of the innovation lines and for shaping innovation and exnovation processes in the livestock and meat sector will be worked out. It will be examined to which extent the results and insights gained in the livestock and meat sector can be generalised and thus be fruitful for innovation, exnovation and transformation processes in other traditional sectors.


We investigated the innovation systems of plant-based meat alternatives (PBMA), insect-based meat alternatives (IBMA), and cultivated meat (CM) from the interdisciplinary perspective of innovation research and the multi-level perspective of transformation research. The innovation systems in Germany were characterized with respect to actors, networks, institutions and functions. The PBMA innovation system was found to be developed furthest. Innovation activities with insect proteins have recently moved away from meat alternatives and food uses to feed and industrial applications. For CM, industrial scale production facilities still have to be established and EU market authorizations have to be obtained. Interaction between the three innovation systems was modest. Activities of mutual benefit were observed in creation of legitimacy, guidance of the search, resource mobilization as well as knowledge generation and exchange. Incumbents of the German livestock and meat sector employed discursive, material and legal/institutional resistance strategies against meat alternatives. However, resistance was less pronounced than to previous innovations in the sector. The following recommendations were derived: Transition research on meat alternatives and alternative proteins, respectively, should be continued for improving the functioning of the innovation systems and designing appropriate policy mixes. Policy should develop a comprehensive strategy for alternative proteins to provide direction for the development of the innovation systems. An exnovation strategy for the livestock and meat sector must be an integral part. Both strands - fostering meat alternatives and exnovation in the livestock and meat sector - have to be closely aligned and coordinated to be effective and to avoid conflicting or contradictory incentives.





  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)