The Meat Substitutes Major Leagues: Who’s on First?
With plant-based meat substitutes hitting a home-run at every major fast food chain across the U.S. and the Meat Industry defending the outfield, it begins to make you wonder if something else could be stepping up to the plate.
Over the years we’ve been spectators at the big game, playing a passive role as health foods have morphed into different positions, dressed in uniform bearing their teams name. We’ve cheered from the stands as weight loss made its way off the playing field and organic took its place. Then the line-up changed once again as functional foods made their grand entrance to the dugout, offering us the chance to improve not only the appearance of our beer bellies, but the inner state of them as well.
Low-fat, Keto, Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Flexitarian — one by one we watched them all take their time in the starting line-up.
Now we’re in the bottom of the 9th, plant-bases loaded and the underdog in the industry just subbed in their pinch hitter. Meat industry hecklers on the sidelines nearly choking on their pork rinds. Looming over the plate, a monster is at bat: it’s cell-based meat with it’s keen eye on the horizon. The crowd goes silent. A change in agriculture as we know it has stepped up to home plate, and it’s about to knock the ball clear out of the park.
The Cell-Based Connection
If you have been closely following the trends you would know that since its inception, JUST Inc., has raised over $220 million and was seeking another $200 million in funding from Chinese investors just earlier this year according to Bloomberg. While this may be fascinating to those who understand this company to be plant-based, it seems as if the real vision isn’t to stay in their lane at all. By outsourcing their packaging, mixing, and distribution of their flagship product and primary revenue driver to egg and dairy companies, JUST is able to remain focused on lab-work. As a result, it is estimated that the first $5 cell-based burger will be able to hit the market as early as 2021.
So what’s the connection? Well if you’re in the nosebleeds, you might not be seeing it just yet. The consumer is just getting used to the idea of plant-based burgers hitting their palates in a pleasing way. But the team owners in the executive boxes know exactly what the strategy is, and they’re all in co-hoots.
If you attended this year’s Foodscape 2019, hosted by DataEssentials, these groundbreaking plans began to take form. Those in attendance heard terms like “vertical agriculture” and were privy to lectures by psychology professors about “overcoming disgust”. All of a sudden the bird’s-eye view began to come into focus and this question began to surface in the minds of all who were truly paying attention: Are we being slowly acclimated to cell-based agriculture by the food industry?
The Fate of the Food Industry with Meat Substitutes
No doubt cell-based agriculture will revolutionize the state of the environment. By reducing the carbon footprint created by traditional meat-farming methods, do we have a choice but to use them? While it stands true that farms use 70% of the world’s fresh-water, some questions remain. Are we really in charge of what we eat? Moreover, are restaurants really in charge of what they serve? Or are we as consumers and even food-business owners just simply spectators in this game of industry? Perhaps it is us that have become the new flesh on the way to the slaughterhouse.
With this Babe Ruth-like, potentially-bigger-than-the-meat-industry “monopolizer” overshadowing home plate, it certainly does stand to question, who’s (really) on first? And the answer has nothing to do with meat.
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