The Future of Plant-Based Meat Substitutes

With the effects the meat industry has on our climate, it seems logical that our meat consumption will decrease in the long run. While there are many that swear by their meat eating ways, odds are the amount of meat we eat will likely be unsustainable in the future. This has to do with the effects that the meat industry has on our environment. Not only does it contribute greatly to the emission of greenhouse gasses. The use of water and land also have a huge impact on the earth. Looking at greenhouse gasses alone, the production of meat contributes much more to the total than cars and air travel combined. Looking at water use, the reason that the meat industry uses such enormous amounts of water is that the animals we eat in turn eat many plants. Thus, the total water used in food production is much more than it would be if our diet was more plant-based. Knowing the extent to which meat contributes to climate change, it makes sense that some companies are seeking to help us move to a meat-less future.

Big news recently on this front was the public debut of Beyond Meat last week Thursday. The Los Angeles based company’s meat substitutes, including burgers, are entirely plant-based. The gains on this IPO were record-breaking. Namely, the first day of trading had the stock close at 263% of its IPO price. The closing price on Thursday was $65.75, with the price soaring to about $71 at the end of the week. Well-known investors in Beyond Meat are Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio.

A large competitor in this market is Impossible Foods. While it has not yet gone public, this company recently closed a deal with Burger King. Burger King will run a trial, selling the so-called Impossible Whoppers in 59 of its restaurants.

All these developments are largely taking places in the US. In The Netherlands, these company’s products aren’t largely available. There are a few restaurants and supermarkets selling Beyond Meat’s products in the country. Beyond Meats has expanded to the UK. Impossible Foods, however, is not active in Europe. There are some European vegan food companies. A notable one is Moving Mountains, based in the UK, which also makes plant-based burgers. Players like Nestlé also have their eye on launching vegan meat substitutes in the European market.

From the consumer’s perspective, the price of vegan alternatives to meats are a barrier in addition to any other reservations they may have about eating meat that isn’t real. While these burgers very closely resemble meat and by many accounts have a very similar taste, the price will likely remain an obstacle for most people for now.

Written by Hazel Alberts