Fake meat has gone a long way since its original creation in the 70s as veggie burgers and tofu patties. Today, plant-based meat has almost the same protein content as regular meat and can even bleed. Every week there seems to be some new development or partnership with the alternative meat industry.
On top of that, alternative meats will be a big industry. Bloomberg reports that the plant-based meat industry is projected to reach $450B by 2040. With growing competition, innovation is expected to make this alternative even more affordable.
Yet where has this technology suddenly sprung from? How did we start from veggie patties to almost realistic synthetic meat?
There are two different types of meat alternatives. The first is cell-based meat, and the second is plant-based meat. But for the longest time, this concept of meat alternatives was for “niche buyers” like vegans and vegetarians, who only take up 3% of the US population. Before, alternative meats were marketed as alternatives to these niche groups. But today, what’s ultimately changed was a focus for alternative meats to be for everyone
Many consumers are focused on healthy options and environmental safety, so they are likely to try new alternatives. As more people buy, more people become aware of the different options, repeating the cycle.
Ultimately, one of the biggest drivers of alternative meats was their timing. The pandemic has led to more people being interested in trying new alternatives. On top of that, fast-food chains have been quick to jump on the “healthy for the environment” meats. More people being willing to buy alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat at stores. Beyond and Impossible have partnered with pandemic strong food chains, like Mcdonald’s and Starbucks. Additionally, Beyond and Impossible collectively hold 31% of the retail meat substitute market.
And most recently, Tyson Meats has also joined the fray. In April, Tyson announced plant-based sausages and burger patties to be sold during the summer. Tyson aims to distribute these goods to retail stores at $4.99 per pound ground “meat” patties using pea protein. Going one step further than its meat hybrid that was introduced before the pandemic, making its bid to be the next leader in alternative meats.
This year, expect a variety of large companies that aim to be the greatest in alternative meat. Just in time for summer grilling season!