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The globe is turning to more sustainable options in a variety of sectors, and the food sector is hardly immune to this trend. More specifically, the meat industry has recently been signaling greater interest in producing more alternatives to animal agriculture, including both”clean meat” (real meat grown from animal cells) and plant-based meat (meats comprised entirely of plants). In other words, while the meat industry has long been decried as the problem from an environmental perspective, it may be on the front-end of becoming part of the solution.Between health concerns, the large carbon footprint of producing conventional meat, and animal welfare considerations, there are certainly ample reasons for more manufacturers are looking for alternatives. So what exactly does the future of meat look like?

  • There is increasing demand expected for meat alternatives
  • Some of the largest meat producers are investing heavily
  • The meat industry will be critical to helping mainstream the proteins that right now are considered alternatives

Increased Demand

In 2018, consumers will spend more than four and a half billion dollars on alternative meat replacement products. This is the result of health concerns, as well as those who wish to do their part to be more sustainable. This value is expected to rise another roughly two billion dollars in just the next five years. Any sector that increase more than 150% in just five years is undoubtedly experiencing a massive ramp up in demand. As demand rises, investments in both plant-based and clean meat will begin to start flowing in.

Largest Meat Producers Investing

The alt-meat industry is beginning to garner investments from some of the biggest names and businesses in the world such as Bill Gates, Cargill, and Tyson Foods. As more money flows into the space, costs will continue to fall as processes are improved.

What’s in a Name?

Some in the meat industry today would like consumers to think of plant-based meat and clean meat as anything but meat. But if it looks like a duck and tastes like a duck, will consumers really feel the need to call it anything other than a duck? In Missouri, already there’s litigation challenging a new law banning the use of the word “meat” on products that don’t contain the flesh of a slaughtered animal. Elsewhere there are fights brewing over whether soy milk-makers should be able to use “milk” in the name at all. These will be critical debates and with outcomes that could either accelerate or hinder the mainstreaming of alternative proteins.