If you’re upset because meat, chicken, and turkey have become so expensive, hang onto your hats - because still higher prices are on the way.
Don’t blame farmers and ranchers. They have to pass along their much higher costs for feed and fertilizer. Strange weather patterns are adding to the problem. And certain influential politicians believe meat should be removed from our diets and are working toward that end.
The bottom line: Meat has been a staple in our diets for thousands of years, but going forward it may lose this standing.
Problems Across The Pond
A European industry insider recently warned that in the coming months, there will be much less meat on store shelves, and the meat that is available will be much more expensive than it is now. The US is also facing these problems.
So what are consumers to do? They have several options, but none of them is appealing.
One is to eliminate meat and related items from our diets. This would ease some financial pressures, but is not practical because many people will find it very difficult – if not impossible – to go on a meatless diet.
Most people eat meat or poultry at least a few times a week. They choose these items, are used to eating them, and look forward to those meals because they find them tasty and satisfying. Going vegan, on the other hand, leaves many feeling hungry and just doesn’t do the job for them.
A second option is for meat eaters to continue to eating it, but either cut down on portion size or the frequency these meals are served. This too won’t make consumers happy; it would be tried only as a very last resort and discarded as quickly as possible.
Help, however, help may be on the way. Numerous companies are working hard at developing an alternative to meat and chicken that is tasty and affordable, and they have made a great deal of progress in this effort.
Essentially, they are taking one of two approaches. One is developing a concoction of plants and vegetables that can serve as a substitute that would also be filling. The second is developing lab-grown meat/poultry.
Both produce the exact taste of real chicken and meat. And the companies involved believe the taste is comparable to the real thing. Both of these approaches are being pursued aggressively.
Beyond Meat, Beyond Popular
Possibly the best-known maker of plant-based substitutes is Beyond Meat. In 2019, this firm became a star on Wall Street. It seemed to be the perfect company in the perfect place at exactly the right time, and the stock soared. Beyond Meat’s plant-based “sausages” and “hamburgers” drew a great deal of attention from both meat lovers and vegans. A number of new and even established restaurants introduced their products to patrons.
But since then, the public’s enthusiasm has cooled. It turns out that the rapid growth that had been forecast for this year will actually be much more modest. McDonald’s decided to discontinue a trial run of their burgers. Others may have had the same reaction as the company recently announced large layoffs.
Beyond Meat’s stock was recently trading near its 12-month low. Most stocks are down sharply from their highs, but few have dropped as much as Beyond Meat’s, which is down about 95% from the all-time high made in July 2019.
If this were not enough, Beyond Meat’s Chief Operating Officer was arrested in October for biting someone’s nose – a shocking development from any top executive, but especially one selling meat substitutes.
Upside Foods, on the other hand, is developing cultured meat. Upside believes consumers will find them a tasty alternative to real met and also may offer a price advantage. Moreover, lab-grown chicken and meat don’t have the high greenhouse gas emissions that livestock do, making them more palatable to environmentalists.
Long Line Forming
There’s a long and growing line of companies that already have or are developing substitutes to meat. More than 100 are selling these products. No surprise here, because the company that gets the recipe exactly right stands to make a fortune, capture significant market share, and if it’s traded publicly, watch the stock skyrocket.
The global vegan food market is projected to grow from a surprisingly-large $26.16 billion in 2021 to $61.35 billion in 2028. Given the rapid growth projected for years, it’s no surprise that some very famous entrepreneurs and celebrities have gotten involved.
One is billionaire Bill Gates, who several years ago purchased shares in Beyond Meat and several private companies; one of those is Impossible Foods, a prominent competitor. By the way, Gates sold his stake in Beyond Meat shortly before its stock crashed.
Companies developing lab-grown substitutes have gotten some good news recently: The government has just approved selling certain lab-grown chicken.
Upside Foods is one company that will benefit from this decision. According to Reuters, Upside makes “cell-cultured chicken by harvesting cells from live animals and using the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks.” In mid-November, the government gave approval for Upside to sell these products to consumers.
Israel Moving Up
Wherever there is innovation, opportunities, and improvement, Israel is probably involved, and developing meat substitutes is no exception. Israel is so extensively involved that Wired has called it a fake-meat powerhouse.
According to Wired: “For such a small country, Israel has a disproportionately high number of alternative meat startups – over 50 according to Nir Goldstein, the Managing Director of the Good Food Institute Israel…The market is so hot that we don’t know of any alt-protein startup that hasn’t been able to raise seed funding.”
If developing these products sounds simple, it’s not, as it requires culinary knowledge, cooking expertise, and even high tech. Companies have to consider dozens of criteria such as the appearance of the food, taste, texture, aroma, juiciness, mouth feel, and much more.
Rilbite is developing a minced-meat alternative made from eight grains and vegetables including rice and cranberries. More Foods is making fake beef using a high-protein yeast blend. And Redefine Meat is turning to 3D printing to replicate real meat layer by layer.
There’s a lot happening in the food industry. Going forward, our meals may be the same but different, more difficult to develop but easier to prepare, and appeal to more people. There’s a lot more to whipping up a tasty meal than there appears to be.
Sources: reuters.com; theeconomiccollapseblog.com; upsidefoods.com; wired.co.uk; zerohedge.com