The Good Food Institute [GFI] has posted a blog about how the meat industry is being transformed by the growth of alternative products.
According to the GFI, it works with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs ‘to make groundbreaking good food a reality’.
It says: “We focus on clean meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products – foods that are more delicious, safer to eat, and better for the planet than their outdated counterparts.”
Also known as bio or lab meat, clean meat is a controversial topic within vegan circles.
Scientists use cells from animals – and some use a bovine serum – to ‘grow’ meat in laboratory conditions. While the product isn’t plant-based, it has support among some (though not all) in the vegan community who see it as a better alternative to traditional meat.
According to the GFI: “The Good Food Institute is laser focused on using markets and food innovation to transform our food system away from factory-farmed animal products and toward clean meat and plant-based alternatives.
“We know plant-based and clean meat can and will be vastly superior to animal-based meat in terms of environmental degradation, impact on human health, alleviating global poverty, and humane treatment of animals.
“Given the inherent inefficiency of using farm animals to convert crops into meat, at scale, plant-based and clean meat will also be able to undercut animal-based meat in cost. Once that happens, the meat industry will be utterly transformed.”
Opportunity or threat?
A post written by Matt Ball considers how this impending technology is viewed by the meat industry – whether it is an opportunity, or threat.
He writes: “Basic thermodynamics and economics make the transformation inevitable, but given the resources available to the incumbents, they could significantly delay the shift away from industrial animal agriculture, causing much more suffering and environmental damage than necessary.
“Or they could embrace the future and accelerate the change quicker than startups could on their own.”
Ball lists a number of established corporations which have invested in alternative products, notably meat processing giant Tyson, which invested in plant-based company Beyond Meat last year. Processor Cargill has invested in ‘clean meat’ company Memphis Meats.
Maple Leaf Foods (Canada’s largest meat producer) announced its purchase of vegan brand Field Roast for $120 million just days ago.
It would appear bosses at these companies see the potential in diverting resources into alternative products.
Tom Hayes CEO, Tyson Foods – one of the largest meat processors in the world – has admitted: “Plant-based protein is growing almost, at this point, a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction.”
According to Ball: “This is yet another sign that the markets, while not moving as quickly as we would like, can and will recognize an opportunity to move to better options.”
He quotes GFI’s Executive Director Bruce Friedrich, talking about Tyson’s investment in Beyond Meat, saying: “I hope with all my heart that others will follow, creating a seamless shift away from animal meat toward healthier and more humane options.”