In this file:
· Plant-based burgers see big year, but meat sales also rise
· Consumers still love red meat, but some feel ‘conflicted’
Plant-based burgers see big year, but meat sales also rise
By Greg Cima, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Nov. 25, 2019
In 2019, Impossible Foods signed contracts to sell its newest plant-based burgers in grocery stores and more than 17,000 restaurants, including the Burger King chain.
Beyond Meat started selling its latest generation of plant-based burgers in June, with contracts to sell them at grocery stores and restaurants and make test runs at chains including McDonald's, Dunkin', and Subway. KFC is testing Beyond's meatless alternative to chicken.
In July, a report from investment firm UBS called 2019 a breakout year for plant-based alternatives to meat, predicting the $4.5 billion industry would rise to $85 billion by 2030. The New York Times reported in October that meat sellers such as Tyson, Perdue, Hormel, and Smithfield also are selling alternatives to meat products.
The latest plant-based products entered the market during a years-long rise in meat consumption. Department of Agriculture data indicate the average person's meat consumption has risen each year since 2015, to about 220 pounds annually in 2018. More recent data from the agency indicated U.S. meat production was on pace for another small rise in 2019.
Restaurant Brands, which owns Burger King, told investors in October that adding the Impossible Whopper contributed to 5% sales growth for the third quarter, the chain's strongest growth since 2015. But the parent company also saw growth in its meat-focused business that quarter: Sales at its fried chicken chain, Popeyes, rose 10%, the chain's best increase in almost 20 years.
Glynn Tonsor, PhD, a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, said beef sales may keep rising even if nonmeat alternatives gain popularity. He thinks the products can coexist, each gaining larger slices of a growing pie. And he thinks it's unlikely demand for veterinarians' services will decline.
Compete or coexist
Rick Husted, vice president of market research for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in October the average person eats about 58 pounds of beef each year. When beef products and plant-based alternatives are counted together, the alternatives account for 0.5% of the market.
Like Dr. Tonsor, Husted thinks the products introduced in 2019 will coexist with beef, as Boca Burger and Morningstar Farms burgers have done for years.
But Impossible Foods' founder and CEO Pat Brown said in the company's Impact Report 2019 that he intends for his product to replace animals in food production by 2035, which he acknowledges would require doubling production and sales each of the next 16 years.
"For Impossible Foods, a sale only counts if it comes at the expense of an animal-derived product," he said. "As intended, more than 93% of consumers who purchase the Impossible Burger regularly eat meat from animals."
Dr. K. Fred Gingrich, executive director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said cattle veterinarians always worry about consumer demand for animal products. The average person's red meat consumption has declined since the 1970s, beef prices have been volatile in recent years, and the dairy industry seems to be pulling out of a substantial price drop over the past five years.
But Dr. Gingrich thinks beef tastes better than even the recent plant-based alternatives. He also thinks it's great to have so many food choices while animal products retain a place in American diets.
Dr. Harry Snelson, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, doubts nonmeat alternatives are having much impact on meat consumption or that swine veterinarians are concerned. He sees the alternatives as an expanding but small part of the food market, with potential to draw more people to restaurants that sell meat and nonmeat products.
If, for example, four people are going to lunch and one is a vegetarian, that group may be more likely to go to Burger King because it has a nonmeat sandwich, Dr. Snelson said.
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Consumers still love red meat, but some feel ‘conflicted’
James Nason, BEEF Central (Australia)
November 24, 2019
LATEST data from long-running consumer research confirms most Australians still love red meat, with more than 90 percent of households consuming beef on a regular basis.
And, despite the amplification of the meatless-eating movement by the mainstream media, the number of people who describe themselves as vegetarians remains relatively stable at less than eight percent of the population.
The vegetarian label clearly encompasses a ‘broad church’, the research suggests, including people who may be reducing meat in their diets but still describe themselves as vegetarian. One quarter of people who self-reported as vegetarians also indicated they still eat meat.
A lot of vegetarians go back to eating meat again, and the biggest reason is often health related, such as a lack of B12 or iron in their diets, Howard Parry Husbands, head of independent consumer research firm Pollinate, told the Red Meat 2019 industry breakfast in Tamworth.
But clearly the red meat industry has some big challenges to overcome, according to the annual research conducted Pollinate on behalf of Meat & Livestock Australia.
While most Australians still eat meat, they are also confused and conflicted about the messages the hear.
The research also shows that while the vast majority of Australian households buy meat, there has been a steady decline in the extent to which people ‘eat beef as often’ over the past 10 years.
About 8 percent of people are eating more red meat than they did a year ago, but 29 percent are eating less than a year ago.
(These proportions have remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, Mr Parry Husbands explained – there has been no ‘big spike’, and the percentage of people who are reducing is not going up, but there are more reducers than there are increasers, which means the total amount of red meat being consumed is slowly reducing).
Another key point is that consumers are reducing the amount of red meat meals they have, as opposed to simply having smaller portions.
Healthy associations for beef are at an all-time low, and only half of Australians believe red meat producers care about the environment.
The main reason people consider one protein over another are price and freshness – “can I afford it, is it fresh and is it nutritious”, Mr Parry Husbands said. “This is reflected in society: it is down, down, prices are down (Coles), and Woolworths are the fresh food people.
“They know this, they know consumers fundamentally buy on price and freshness.”
People eating less meat are still pointing to animal welfare as the main reason for not eating or reducing meat. However the percentage citing animal welfare is decreasing slightly while the percentage citing environmental concerns is growing slightly.
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