Tag Archives: Beyond Meat

Good news? – Meat and Dairy acquiring veg companies

 

so-delicious-dessertsIs this good news? Mainstream meat and dairy companies are investing in, and acquiring outright, plant-based food companies. Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? Examples abound:
In July, France’s Danone, best known for its Dannon brand yogurt, bought WhiteWave and its subsidiary, So Delicious, which specializes in organic and plant-based alternatives to dairy products, in a deal worth $12.5 billion.

Beyond Meat packetBeyond Meat sells plant protein that “looks, feels, tastes and acts like chicken without the cluck,” as the product packaging for its faux chicken reads. That was good enough for poultry giant Tyson Foods Inc., which acquired a 5% stake in the El Segundo-based vegan start-up Monday.

For Tyson Foods, the move is a fast way into a rapidly growing alternative-foods segment, which could account for as much as a third of worldwide protein consumption by mid-century with a market value of as much as $108 billion, according to Lux Research.

Even Boca Burger is owned by Kraft, and Gardein was recently acquired by Pinnacle Foods, which owns brands such as Armour Bacon. So the trend is clear. The question is “Is this a good thing and what will it mean for the future?”  Commenting on Tyson’s recent investment, Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s vice president for farm animal protection, says, “We’re thrilled to see Tyson investing in the company. Americans want to diversify their protein sources with more of it coming from plants, and Tyson is positioned well to help them do that.”

Others agree and think that mainstream companies have the connections and extra bucks to take plant-based foods further and faster than they could have gotten on their own. Ultimately, the mainstream is where the growth is expected to come from in the veg world.

But still some uneasiness lingers. Many veg companies are choosing to keep their distance. While mainstream meat and dairy companies, seeing their potential, seem to have supported their new brands, they could have easily done otherwise. Time, as the saying goes, will tell what this will mean for the food vegetarians currently eat and enjoy.

Record Breaking Year for Vegetarian Food

Beyond Meat packetThere has never been a better time to be a vegetarian. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are conjuring up meat like products closer than ever to the real thing, giant restaurant chains like Wendy’s are (finally!) testing veggie burgers, and the science supporting the meat-free lifestyle just keeps coming.

Sales of vegetarian products are on the rise. In 2013, 12% of new food and drink products worldwide had vegetarian claims, double the 6% in 2009, according to Mintel, a food trend research group. In addition to this, 2% of global food and drink launches carried a vegan claim in 2013, up from 1% in 2009. When you consider just how large the global food market is that adds up to huge growth!

Fueling the rising sales are not only the growing number of vegetarians, but also a very large increase in the vegetarian-curious people who are eager to dip their toes and give vegetarian foods a try.  According to Global Food Science Analyst, Laura Jones, “Plant-based and other vegetarian protein sources align with consumer interest in reducing red meat consumption and growing interest in vegetarian products. Indeed, consumers are shifting towards more plant-based diets.”

Gates Gets It!

Bill GatesAdd Microsoft founder and noted philanthropist, Bill Gates, to the list of leaders who understand that we can’t feed a growing and hungry population, in an environmentally sustainable way, on a meat-centered diet, especially when diet-related diseases now top the list worldwide.

According to Bill Gates, “meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years. By 2030, the world will need millions of tons more meat than it does today. But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.” Gates cites the UN figures on the expected growth of meat (see chart).

Chart of Growth in Production to 2030 - side by side, new labels

So what’s his solution? Companies that produce vegan meats. Products that are delicious but that don’t use any animal products. Gates writes, “Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources. Over the past few years, I’ve come across a few companies that are doing pioneering work on innovations that give a glimpse into possible solutions. To be sure, it’s still very early, but the work these companies are doing makes me optimistic. I wanted to share with you a look at their work on creating alternatives to meat and eggs that are just as healthful, are produced more sustainably, and taste great.”

Gates says “fake meats get real” and writes about two companies in particular, “Food scientists are creating healthful plant-based alternatives that taste just like eggs, chicken, and other sources of protein. Companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods are experimenting with new ways to use heat and pressure to turn plants into foods that look and taste just like meat and eggs. I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative and was impressed. I couldn’t tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken. Beyond Eggs, Hampton Creek Foods’ egg substitute, doesn’t contain the high cholesterol of real eggs.” Entrepreneurs take note that Gates considers fake meats a “big market opportunity.”

Gates’ foundation has also completed a major global study documenting various diseases. “Researchers released the results of a five-year project—funded by our foundation—to assess the prevalence of diseases, injuries and risk factors in 187 countries over a 20 year period—from 1990 to 2010. Known as the Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD), it is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and incorporates the work of hundreds of public health experts.” This study showed that along with the increase in global meat consumption comes an increase in diet-related diseases. For instance heart disease now tops the list of the most common diseases world-wide while stroke has moved to the number 3 position. Diabetes has also moved way up on the list.

The message seems clear. Plant foods constitute the most sustainable and healthy future of food. To take part in this cutting edge trend, you need no special technology or billions of dollars. Healthy eating is as close as your kitchen and natural food store and Vegetarians of Washington is here to help!