This Is the Beginning of the End of the Beef Industry
This should bring cheer to those disappointed with the beef bans in places across India. The plant-based meat technology has received a shot in the arm with the USFDA clearing the use of soy leghemoglobin, a protein-based color additive uses to make the Impossible Burger “bleed” like real meat. This piece by Rowan Jacobsen in Outside, captures the significant strides made by the plant-based meat industry led by “start-ups” like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, recent times that one can in the near future look to savour a juicy burger yet stay vegetarian and environment friendly.
“Part of the appeal of the new burgers is their smaller environmental footprint. Beef is the most wasteful food on the planet. Cows are not optimized to make meat; they’re optimized to be cows. It takes 36,000 calories of feed to produce 1,000 calories of beef. In the process, it uses more than 430 gallons of water and 1,500 square feet of land, and it generates nearly ten kilograms of greenhouse-gas emissions. In comparison, an Impossible Burger uses 87 percent less water, 96 percent less land, and produces 89 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Beyond Meat’s footprint is similarly svelte.
..By 2018, sales of both the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger were surging, and the companies began to ink deals with restaurant chains. Beyond Meat got Carl’s Jr. and A&W (as well as supermarket chains like Food Lion and Safeway), while Impossible got White Castle. They’re coming back at Del Taco, too, which launched a Beyond Meat taco in April. Within two months, it had sold two million, one of the most successful product launches in its history, so it decided to add Beyond Meat burritos as well. And then there’s Burger King. The second-largest fast-food chain in the world rattled big beef’s cage by testing an Impossible Whopper in St. Louis in April. Resulting foot traffic was so strong that Burger King decided to serve the Impossible Whopper in all 7,200 restaurants, marking the moment when alt meat stopped being alt.
…As this shift accelerates, the beef industry will lose its last advantage—price. Most offerings made with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are about a buck a burger more expensive. But it’s inherently cheaper to make a burger directly out of plants than it is to feed those plants to an animal first. Beef is currently cheaper because of scale. Big food companies can negotiate tremendously reduced prices for feed, and gigantic factories and supply chains are much more efficient to run.
But the playing field is leveling fast. Last week, Dunkin’ announced a new Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich that will be just 14 cents more than the meat version. But more than anything Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods has accomplished, the true death knell for the cattlemen is how the mainstream food industry has embraced alt meat. Whole Foods just announced it will start selling burgers from the UK-based startup the Meatless Farm in all of its stores. Nestlé is launching its Awesome Burger this fall. Tyson Foods, America’s largest meat producer, just debuted its own plant-based nuggets, with more products to come.”
Recent projections suggest that 60 percent of the meat eaten in 2040 will be alt, a figure I think may actually be too conservative. An estimated 95 percent of the people buying alt burgers are meat-eaters. This is not about making vegetarians happy. It’s not even about climate change. This is a battle for America’s flame-broiled soul. Meat is about to break free from its animal past. As traditional meat companies embrace alt meat with the fervor of the just converted, making it cheap and ubiquitious, it’s unclear if Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods can survive the feeding frenzy (though Impossible’s patents on its core IP may help)..”