Are alternative proteins just a trend?

Large animal protein companies are expecting growth in their alternative protein portfolios, however, some have suggested they believe sales will hit a ceiling


Deven King, WATT AgNet

January 9, 2020


King is the managing editor of Egg Industry


It's no secret in the food industry that alternative proteins have been a popular topic and big companies are making it a priority to expand their portfolios of untraditional "meat" products. Fresh meat protein continues to grow at a rate of 1.3%, while alternative proteins are growing by 10.3%.


Tyson Foods CEO Noel White, speaking during a quarterly earnings call on February 7, 2019, said that the company would continue to invest in its traditional meat protein businesses, but it is also "committed to incremental growth in alternative protein."


My colleague recently did an interview where an industry member explained that they thought alternative protein sales would hit a ceiling. I'm not convinced that is going to be the case.


Why I'm a skeptic


As much as I would like to agree with that industry member and hope that people would only consume traditional meat products to support livestock producers, I am afraid a younger generation of consumers -- and their animal welfare and environmental concerns -- is going to play a bigger role in this than we as producers would like.


In the egg industry, we are seeing legislation in individual states force producers to go cage-free, even though large retailers haven't indicated to producers that they will go forward with the pledges they've made.


With that said, I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have pushed the cage-free movement so hard, will also push for the consumption of plant-based meat products or lab-grown meats to save animal lives.


Let's not forget that environmentalists seem to like to blame the cattle business for more than its fair share of greenhouse gases.


"Demand is being fueled by consumers choosing healthier diets and trying to reduce their impact on the environment. By 2023, the U.S. meat-substitute retail market could reach $2.5 billion, according to the research firm Euromonitor International," CNN reported in an article about alternative proteins in the spring of 2019.


Then we have millennials and Generation Z...


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