Alternative Proteins My take on it all

Plant-based meat war heats up!

Why is this significant?

Whilst the growth of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat has been impressive, they’re minnows in the patty manufacturing food chain! As I predicted  a little over 2 weeks ago when I said “Who will be next to join the war? Will some of the big conventional meat hamburger patty manufacturers join the fray? OSI? Tyson now own Keystone Foods and with their investment in Beyond looking good, will they turn Keystone loose on the market?” Tyson have announced they will indeed join the fight for plant-based meat consumers. Will it be Keystone as the shock troops? My guess is yes, why waste all that manufacturing might!

Noel White, Tyson Foods President and CEO, said on the 7th February in a quarterly earnings call that “Tyson is using all its resources to make “great tasting protein alternatives that are more accessible for everyone.” And just to ensure clarity he said “What I was talking about this morning was purely organic growth ourselves — within Tyson,” So he’s not referring to Tysons investment in Beyond Meat, but to the use of the might and muscle of Tyson itself to enter the market. But is it worthwhile?

Well according to a recent Nielsen report commissioned by the GFI the $3.7bn plant based foods market grew 17 % in the 12 months to August 2018. This contrast with just 2 % for retail food sales generally. Indeed Beyond Meats sales were up 70%! So with a $3.7bn market that’s on the rise conventional meat companies need to sit up and take notice and some obviously are.

We also have companies including The Better Meat Co  (BMC) offering ingredients for blended meat products, which is another fertile area ripe for development. This can help people who fundamentally still want “meat” but would like to reduce their meat consumption in a palatable way. Substituting 30% of BMC’s product or 30% mushroom (eg the Sonic Burger) is a very simple way to appeal to such consumers in a  tasty, convenient, cost effective way.

We now have 2 monster companies in Tyson and Nestlé and a major company in Maple Leaf foods joining the plant based market. Look out Impossible and Beyond! As White said “What I was signalling today is that it is coming,” White said. “And we will do it in a significant way.” 

2019 is when plant-based meat goes from niche to mainstream. However, I predict that the real knock down, drag em out fight for market dominance will be in 2020, when all competitors are on the market.

I can hardly wait!

Many of the the value adders in the conventional meat industry clearly “get it”. However, much of the conventional meat industry sees only the threat side of the equation and not the opportunities. If they want to influence the rise of plant and cell-based products then they need to get involved. Sniping at new technologies from the sidelines hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work this time.

Finally, anyone who thinks the plant based meat market is just another “fad” has their head firmly planted in the sand! The big problem with this is that your posterior is firmly in the air for someone to kick! And you can’t even see them coming……………………….


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