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Marc Brazeau | Editor | Food and Farm Discussion Lab | @eatcookwrite
[This is a series of 5 predictions for what to watch in 2108]
PLANT MEAT 2.O GOES MAINSTREAM
As prediction, this one is a lay up. It’s already happening, but 2018 will be the year we go from the glut of news articles in 2017 and start to see that news coverage to convert into sales.
By Plant Meat 2.0 I’m referring to the spate of new animal meat substitutes being developed that rely on biotech, big data and other new technologies to go beyond “Vegetarians Only” products like Quorn and Tofurky. The two leaders in this space are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both vying to market their plant protein burgers to non-vegetarians, there are others working on other staples. New Wave Foods is working on algae based shrimp that seems fairly close to market, at least for popcorn shrimp with shrimp cocktail to follow.
While Impossible Burgers has aimed its marketing strategy at the taste making elite chefs, Beyond Burger is already in the meat case (not the natural/organic/vegetarian section) in mainstream grocery stores like Kroger and Safeway. Starting in January they will be on the menu in 465 TGIFridays. They are also bring a plant meat 2.0 sausage to market. Meanwhile, as Beyond and Impossible seek to convert carnivores to plant based burgers, Moving Mountains Foods their plant burger at vegans with a little B12 supplementation.
Still in the wings, however will be lab cultured meat and crickets. Another year of research and write ups for cultured meat and write ups and incremental progress for crickets and other insect and insect-like critters.
Like I said, as prediction, this one’s a lay up. But it matters. You can slice and dice the numbers in different ways and while some of them get over-hyped, it remains the case that cutting down your beef consumption is one of the biggest things most of us can do to lower the environmental impact of our eating habits. But it’s really hard to change the way a culture eats, especially for the better*. The percentage of vegans and vegetarians in the population stays surprisingly stable over time, so admonitions and sermons about problems with meat production will only get you so far. I’ve spoken with many, many friends who are well aware, but unwillingly to give up their favorite and most familiar foods. I’m one of them. I eat far less meat and dairy than I used to but for reasons I would need whole other essay to list, I’m willing to eat a lot less, I’m not a vegan.
Plant Meat 2.0 at the Tipping Point
But these attachments are stubborn, until they aren’t. And things change very slowly, until the change completely overnight. That’s where I think these companies have made a smart bet. For a lot of people there will be a psychological hump and almost religious hump to get over, but once they do, and I think most will, it will be the most reasonable thing in the world to switch from animal meat to plant meat if they can get what they want from the experience. These companies started with trying to tackle the hamburger first, rather than the much easier task of sausage, for a reason. To change the culture, they’ve got to first engage with people where they are at. In this country, there’s no more potent symbol of what it means to eat like an American than a sizzling juicy burger.
My review of the Beyond Burger can be found here.
Short piece on algae-based shrimp and lab cultured fish by Gizomodo:
* It’s apparently not that hard to get people to eat lots of highly palatable snacks, drinks, and desserts that high hijack their metabolism and neuroendocrinology.
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