Reading Time: 2 minutes The entrepreneur has invested in plant-based brand Beyond Meat Credit: Michelle Andonian
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Billionaire Bill Gates is encouraging consumers to buy more plant-based to ‘drive down’ its premium price. 

The tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist made the comment in a recent blog post. He also spoke about how consumer demand can alter product prices in a recent BBC interview.

‘Reduce emissions’

“Reducing your own carbon emissions isn’t the most powerful thing you can do,” Gates said. “You can also send a signal to the market that people want zero-carbon alternatives and are willing to pay for them. 

“When you pay more for an electric car, a heat pump, or a plant-based burger, you’re saying ‘there’s a market for this stuff. We’ll buy it’.

“If enough people send the same signal, companies will respond—quite quickly, in my experience. They’ll put more money and time into making low-emissions products, which will drive down the prices of those products, which will help them get adopted in big numbers. 

“It will make investors more confident about funding new companies that are making the breakthroughs that will help us get to zero.”

Speaking to the BBC, Gates then added: “[Consumers] using less is a good thing. But, even more important is their political voice and what they buy. 

“They can buy meat products from companies like Beyond and Impossible… And, as they do those purchases not only do they significantly reduce emissions but if they ramp up the volume of those products then the price premium of those things will tend to come down.”

Is plant-based meat expensive?

According to new research, customers pay almost 200 percent more for plant-based products in comparison to animal counterparts.

The study, commissioned by sports insurance brand Insure4Sport, assessed prices across major UK supermarkets. The results concluded four in five plant-based products cost more than the meat options.

The analysis looked at seven supermarkets, including Waitrose and Marks & Spencer’s.

For example, M&S’s Plant Kitchen No Pork Sausage Rolls sell for £2.25. Yet, the pork version costs 80p, making the plant-based product £1.45 more expensive. This was despite both products bearing the same weight.

It is worth noting that a whole-food plant-based diet revolved around grains, beans, and seasonal vegetables will cost much less.

Plant-based prices

Despite the study’s results, another survey found meat-eaters consistently overestimate the prices of a variety of plant-based products.

The study observed the behaviors of meat-eaters to ascertain how plant-based diets can be encouraged in the UK. 

Masters’ student and vegan Lili-Tiger Thomason concluded that in order to grow plant-based lifestyles, the focus needs to be placed on the ‘rapid advances’ of meat substitutes.

Lili’s survey assessed 169 meat-eaters across the UK. They were asked to guess the prices of a range of vegan products. They included Plant Pioneer’s Jumbo Roll and Chicken Pieces and Tesco‘s Meat Free Mince. Products also included Heck Meat Free Italiana Sausages and Sainsbury’s Soy Milk.

The meat-eaters consistently estimated the products to be almost double their actual price.

Liam Giliver

Liam is the Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator for Plant Based News. He has written for a number of top publications including Gay Times, Attitude Magazine, Oh Comely, and The Huffington Post - and is the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.