Beyond meat? What's inside - and behind - the lab-grown protein rush
The share price of US-based Beyond Meat, a maker of plant-based proteins that mimic meat, has tripled in the three weeks since it was introduced on the stock market. Rival Impossible Foods' Impossible Whopper can now be purchased at Burger King, and the company is raising large amounts of cash in preparation for its own expected IPO. What's behind the investor rush to so-called 'clean meat'?
A report prepared for the IUF by the ETC Group looks at the forces driving the investor rush and the hype behind lab-grown meat. 'Alternative' protein products, manufactured by industrial biotechnology and designed to emulate the qualities of meat, fish and dairy, can be produced from animal stem cells (and are therefore animal-derived), or through the use of non-animal genetically modified sources whose end-product achieves meat-like qualities after undergoing fermentation.
Their marketing appeal derives from diverse consumer concerns over ethics, health, animal welfare and climate change. The paper explains why major meat and protein companies are among the key investors in lab-grown protein (Tyson recently sold its investment in Beyond Meat to concentrate on developing its own plant-based protein products). It examines the environmental claims behind the marketing and questions the impact on the livelihoods of food producers.
CLICK HERE to download the report.