Investment banks and consultancies are making bold predictions for meat alternatives’ success: by 2030, UBS thinks meat alternatives will be a $85B global market; Barclays thinks they’ll be worth $140B; and AT Kearney thinks they’ll be worth $390B. Think tank RethinkX even predicts that, by 2030, meat alternatives’ success will have rendered the beef industry “all but bankrupt.” There is reason for optimism. The Beyond Burger is now sold in over 53,000 outlets, including a trial at 28 McDonald’s restaurants in Canada. The Impossible Burger just launched in retail, and outsold all ground beef in its first two weeks on the shelf in Southern California. And meat giants Tyson, Smithfield, JBS, and Hormel are all launching their own plant-based meats. These new alternatives come closer than any before to mimicking meat’s taste and texture. But they’re still not mimicking one key attribute of meat: its price (see chart in article). That matters: the optimists’ predictions all assume that meat alternatives will soon be cheaper than meat. For instance, RethinkX assumes that meat alternatives “will be five times cheaper by 2030 and 10 times cheaper by 2035 than existing animal proteins.” Is that really feasible?
Bollard, L., (2019). Why is Meat So Cheap. Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter, 4 Oct. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/farm-animal-welfare-newsletter-archive. Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, USA.