Fake meat burgers are 'processed crap' says leading premium beef marketer


Vernon Graham, Mandurah Mail (Australia)

June 10, 2019


James Madden, who heads one of Australia's leading marketers of premium meat brands, says plant-based hamburgers are junk food.


He describes the fake meat burgers from the likes of high-profile US manufacturers, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, as "junk food" and "processed crap".


Mr Madden, managing director of Melbourne-based Flinders + Co, launched a blistering attack on plant-based "meat" during a panel discussion at this week's launch of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework in Sydney.


Last year Flinders + Co became the first meat supplier in the world to fully offset carbon emissions.


The company, originally called Flinders Island Meat, was established in 2010 by Mr Madden's father, David, as a boutique lamb brand after he bought the Flinders Island abattoir.


The company has since evolved into a wholesale meat company distributing some of Australia's best known meat brands including Cape Grim beef, Robbins Island Wagyu, Rosedale Ruby beef, Flinders Island Saltgrass Lamb and Nichols Ethical Free Range Chicken.


Mr Madden admitted he seriously thought about transitioning the company out of meat two or three years ago because of an avalanche of anti-meat messages and wall-to-wall publicity about the alleged health benefits of vegan diets.


He watched a "lot" of documentaries and listened to "noise" about Beyond Meat burgers, Impossible Foods, veganism and the impact of livestock on the environment.


"I was experiencing it (the red meat debate) as a consumer rather than an industry participant at that point. So I probably didn't know enough," he said.


"But I seriously thought about taking our business out of the meat industry.


"Thankfully I didn't. What I ended up doing was digging beneath the surface. And what I found was very reassuring to myself," he said.


Mr Madden was answering a question to the panel from Jenny O'Sullivan, a livestock producer from Victoria's South Gippsland and member of the Beef Sustainability Framework's steering committee.


She asked the panel - which included leading processor, Peter Greenham, Queensland cattle producer, Howard Smith, and Sydney chef, Mike McEnearney - what they would say to farmers concerned and scared about the attacks on their industry by vegans and animal activists...