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Client Success Story

Saudi mega-project | Validating plant proteins’ benefits and viability

The problem

The client on this project was a major government entity in Saudi Arabia, who was in the process of developing a mega-project, conceived as part of Vision 2030. The completed mega-project would act as a global hub for trade, innovation, and knowledge.

As part of the mega-project, the client was working to develop a zone that would produce enough food to meet the needs of a substantial number of residents without relying on external sources. This independent economic zone, would have its own laws, taxes, and regulations, specially created to boost healthy growth and wealth for the region, investors, and residents. The client sought to locally grow a variety of healthy foods in this zone while preserving natural resources and reducing waste.

Farrelly Mitchell was engaged to support the Saudi client in developing strategies to make their food supply chains more resilient and sustainable, with a specific focus on promoting plant proteins as a healthier and more sustainable alternative. This involved providing scientific evidence and practical recommendations through a detailed whitepaper. The client also sought guidance on actionable steps to implement this alternative protein strategy effectively.


Plant proteins have gathered momentum in recent years, with many consumers seeing them as a more environmentally sustainable and ethical source of nutrition. This has led to a global increase in consumption. However, the sector faces several ongoing challenges, including consumer stigma, sustainability issues, and regulatory limitations.

The problem: 

The client was interested in plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy, and how these alternatives could play a crucial role in achieving the nation’s goals of self-sufficiency, sustainability, and improved public health. The client wanted to fully understand the long-term challenges and implications faced by the plant-based protein sector before deciding to invest significantly into it. Specifically, they were interested in assessing the degree to which plant proteins could be leveraged to enhance food security in an environmentally sustainable way.

The solution

Informed by a deep review of relevant publications, scientific data, and stakeholder consultations, Farrelly Mitchell drafted a scientifically rigorous whitepaper to validate the benefits and address the challenges of plant-based proteins.

Based on our experience in global and regional upstream/downstream agrifood markets and our unique technical, financial, and strategic perspectives, we delivered a robust report that validated key claims regarding the plant-based proteins industry and developed a roadmap for implementation.

  1. Validating key claims

We began by conducting a comprehensive literature review to substantiate common claims about the sustainability and nutritional benefits of plant-based proteins. Our analysis explored prevailing trends and challenges in the transition to plant-based proteins, examining environmental impacts, sustainability improvements, consumer perceptions, industry claims, and health/nutritional benefits. We also explored the most sustainable production processes and supply chains, closely examining various processing technologies, inputs, and logistical frameworks.

The drafting process included a peer review by experienced subject matter experts. Additionally, stakeholder consultations complemented our research and was used to gain direct insights and tacit knowledge from industry experts and practitioners. To ensure comprehensive coverage of the topic, we conducted numerous consultations, and gathered and analysed vast quantities of qualitative and quantitative data. These findings would later be benchmarked against the data from the initial literature review.

  1. Developing roadmap for implementation

In this phase, we focused on identifying the most suitable crops for cultivation, outlining effective strategies for supply chain management, and recommending advanced processing technologies that align with the client’s sustainability goals. We also reviewed relevant communication and policy strategies that promoted plant-based consumption, assessed strategies that could be adopted by the client, and reviewed the export potential of plant-based production.

The results

The project concluded with a scientifically rigorous whitepaper. This report provided a detailed assessment of perceived sustainability, supply chain robustness, crop availability, and nutritional benefits associated with the transition to plant-based proteins. The report provided nine key recommendations for the client, addressing areas such as operational optimisation, policy frameworks, and communication strategies.

The report provided the client with a defensible body of knowledge to support their logistical and communication efforts. This not only strengthened their operational capabilities, but also enabled them to craft effective communication strategies that would engage stakeholders, build consumer trust, and advocate the consumption of plant proteins. This body of knowledge also served to influence high-level strategic decisions and pave the way for a sustainable plant-based supply chain in the region.

Transitioning to plant proteins:

At Farrelly Mitchell, we work diligently with public and private stakeholders to develop forward-thinking strategies and foster positive change across agrifood systems. Our international food and agribusiness consultants offer key insights and actionable recommendations to client’s looking to optimise supply chains, capture growth, and integrate sustainability and ESG within their operations.

Our consultants have extensive experience in supporting large-scale international agribusiness projects. Our team are well versed on topics such as supply chain optimisation, sustainability & ESG, market entry and product development, particularly in emerging markets such as alternative proteins. Get in touch today to leverage our insights and build more resilient and efficient food systems.

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