In this file:
∑ For the Love of Meat: Are Plant-Based Burgers Overhyped?
∑ Meat Analogue Sales Going Backward
For the Love of Meat: Are Plant-Based Burgers Overhyped?
By Irina Gerry, Opinion, Green Queen (HK)
Sep 21, 2022
Gerry is on a mission to transform the food system and drive widespread adoption of sustainable ways to feed the world. She is a CMO at Change Foods, a precision fermentation food tech company, creating animal-free dairy products. Irina has over a decade of experience in consumer marketing space with global giants, P&G and Danone, as well as business strategy and operations with Deloitte. Irina holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Notes From the Frontlines of the Sustainable Food Movement Ė a new opinion column by Irina Gerry
Critics say plant-based burgers arenít a health food and are a false solution in the fight to reduce food emissions. Are they right?
Plant-based meat has become the subject of increasingly intense debate. On one hand, plant-based burgers by startups like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are trying to make headway with meat lovers touting their beefy taste and climate credentials. On the other, the real beef fans are firing back with tradition and naturalness, undergirded by our cultural devotion to meat.
Itís political. Itís emotional. Itís tribal. From Fox News pundits to climate scientists to ranchers, everyone is wading into the great beef debate. So, do plant-based burgers deserve our love or are they an overhyped Silicon Valley invention about to go down?
Are they better for the environment? Yes.
Plant-based meat alternatives beat conventional beef by a long shot. Given that beef tops the charts in emissions, land use, and fresh water use among all foods, as well as livestock farming being the leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss, it is not hard to see that just about any plant-based alternative would be a dramatic improvement.
For example, compared to conventional ground beef, the Impossible Burger reduces environmental impacts across every critical category, requiring 87% less water and 96% less land, and producing 89% fewer GHG emissions and 92% less aquatic pollutants.
But, arenít these burgers made from soy and other industrial monocrops, which are bad for the environment? The amount of soy protein, and other edible inputs, going into this burger are far lower than is required to produce an equivalent beef burger.
Raising cattle for food is incredibly inefficient. It takes 100 calories of feed to get 3 calories of beef. In the US, we use 65% more productive agricultural lands to grow crops (like corn and soy) to feed farmed animals than we do for all other foods we eat directly. There is likely more indirect soy in your beef burger than in the plant-based one. In fact, 77% of soy globally is used for animal feed, and only 7% is consumed by humans. Livestock farming, and its growing demand for soy feed, is the leading driver of deforestation in the Amazon. But wait, isnít regeneratively grazed beef good for the planet? Many passionate ranchers promote regeneratively grazed beef as the climate solution, insisting that when done properly, grazed cattle can restore degraded soils and sequester carbon. First, this is not what people eat today, because more than 99% of beef is not regeneratively grazed. Second, regenerative agriculture lacks proper definition and standards, making it impossible to know whether beef marketed as regenerative or low carbon is actually better, or how it stacks up for measurements beyond carbon such as land use, water use, deforestation or biodiversity. Finding this magical climate friendly beef will send you scouring the internet, deciphering dubious marketing claims, and air freighting expensive beef from a handful of small farms, likely negating your effort at a lower carbon footprint. Third, even after decades of research, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the scalability, durability and overall climate impact of regenerative grazing outside of very specific degraded cropland conversion examples, making it more of a niche proposition rather than a scalable climate solution.
Are they better for the animals? Yes ...
Are they better for your health? Probably ...
Are they a false solution? I donít think so ...
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Meat Analogue Sales Going Backward
By Pan Demetrakakes, Food Processing
Sep 16, 2022
Plant-based meat analogues are showing stagnating sales, suggesting fundamental problems for the category, according to data from IRI.
Dollar sales for plant-based alternatives in the first quarter of 2022 were down 7.2% for the previous year, while volume sales were down 7.6%. In July, dollar sales were up 7.6% over July 2021, but volume sales were down 5.1%.
The July drop was especially pronounced for refrigerated meat alternatives, which were down 15% in both dollar sales and volume. Frozen meat alternatives were almost unchanged in volume, dropping just 0.3%, while dollar sales were up 9%.
The decline has taken hold in particular in plant-based substitutes for various forms of ground meat. Patties, the most common product, were down 26% in both volume and dollar sales in May from a year ago; in July, they fell 33% in dollars, 30% in volume. Analogue ground bulk meat, meatballs and sausages also were down.
That isnít good news for the plant-based sector. Ground products, especially patties, were the first type to reach the market. Their struggles in the market point to a problem with analogue meat: lack of repeat sales. The products simply arenít close enough to the taste and mouthfeel of meat to generate a customer base, according to some industry observers...
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