Scaremongering #cowhater - or a messenger of valid market forces? A primer for traditional food and ag deniers

Money soil

In a recent post I shared an article about how investors worth trillions -some $1.9 worth - are putting pressure on food companies to serve more fake meat and “future-proof” their supply chains by bringing more meat alternatives to market.

In doing so I was hastily accused by a defensive New Zealander, working the traditional farming sector, of producing "scaremongering drivel" and to "wake up and smell the coffee"(who's since removed his comment). He also challenged me to produce the what he believed mythical market forces driving this.

Since I'm far from a #cowhater, but rather a well informed and very well connected researcher in the field of food and ag, I thought this would be a good time to put together a wee primer for those less versed in the field of food and the future thereof, on the market forces driving the investment into and the production of alternative meats and proteins to market.

Hopefully this list will 1) (selfishly) slow down the hate mail I get from traditional farming community 2) raise awareness on a highly important topic, and 3) pull a few Kiwi heads out from the sand...

Here we go. Just some market forces driving alternative proteins and the possible demise of feedlot and Kiwi animal ag include:

  1. $0.5 billion in food and ag synbio investment last lear alone (CB Insights)
  2. Agfunder's biotech category received 22% of the agtech funding pie (150% year on year growth since 2014)
  3. Of all the 84 agriculture focused biotech deals tracked by AgFunder in 2016 only 21 - a mere one quarter - of the technologies were focused on farm animal agriculture
  4. Increasing start ups in the celluar agriculture space (plant and DNA) too many to note here but they have almost every sentient being covered (chicken, pork, beef, duck, fish, shrimp) as well as coffee, wine, leather, silk and foie grass
  5. Increasing market demand for plant based alternatives (protein and milk)
  6.  Plant based milk fastest growing category -and commanding twice the price 
  7. Big Food companies systematically buying out plant protein / milk companies to remain relevant 
  8. Big Food cos like Tyson, General Mills, Campbell Foods, Fonterra even! establishing investment funds supporting such alternative protein production
  9. Big Food (like Tyson) scientists attending and researching cellular ag conferences and forums (economics alone are appealing to them)
  10. China setting the goal to cut its meat consumption in half by 2030
  11. Increasing middle class in China and elsewhere also increasing demand for animal products where there is not enough supply
  12. Millennials demanding more ethical sustainable and transparent food production methods... and very open to eat alternatives that baby boomers are less inclined to
  13. The expansion of plant based protein companies like Beyond Meat into Hong Kong, and Impossible Food's recent production facility in Oakland enabling it to scale and cater to 1000 restaurants and the over demand they are struggling to fulfil right now
  14. OH and the fact we need to feed an extra 2 odd billion more people in urban environments in the coming three decades that our current broken system (land, agrochemicals, diseases, ethics, antibiotics, monocultures) is wildly ill equipped for

So as you can see - there is definitely no scaremongering here. These are real market trends, and trends all food producing nations like NZ would be naive to ignore. As Jarrod Ward mentioned, the future is "mystery meat" irrespective of how it is made (lab grown or vegetable based) whether we like it or not.

But this movement also presents huge opportunities for premium food producing nations like NZ to clean up our act and establish a premium, transparent and sustainable food producing niche for us to command deli premiums and export dollars .... A whole new thesis I'll save for another post.

#foodfuturist #agtech #food #synbio #biotech #plantbasedmeat #cleanmeat