January 29th, 2020 | Updated on April 21st, 2021
Recently at CES 2020 tech showcase in Las Vegas Impossible Foods, a California-based alternative meat producer, released the “Impossible Pork”, which is actually a plant-based pork substitute. Now, this is both kosher and halal, and has the same taste and texture which is very close to the real thing.
Additionally, a plant-based and pre-seasoned sausage was also released which goes by the name of Impossible Sausage and is a replacement to the actual ones.
Earlier in 2016, the company also came up with flagship Impossible Burger, which is another green replacement which smells, handles, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows.
Very soon Impossible Burger was seen across major fast food chains, and in restaurants at United States, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, and some of the American grocery stores.
1. Who All Are Producing Alternative Meats?
Startup agencies are focused on coming up with traditional meat solutions to replace meat, seafood, milk (and dairy products), and eggs. Beyond Meat, another Californian company, has come up with beef-substitute burgers, beef, and beef crumble, and also “Beyond Sausage” which is targeted as an alternative of pork sausages.
This is the company which supplied McDonald’s’ first plant-based burger, PLT (Plant Lettuce Tomato), which was further spread into some of the Canadian outlets last September. Beyond Meat has also partnered with some of the fast food chains like Dunkin’, Del Taco, Subway, KFC, and Carl’s Jr.
Barcelona-based Novameat, and the Israeli food tech startup Redefine Meat are geared up in designing 3D-printed and plant-based meat. Some meat startups are also creating meat from chicken, pig, and cow cells. Memphis Meats, came up with first meatball which was cell based in 2016.
The Dutch company Meatable has also developed a has developed a commercially viable process of using stem cells to come up with cheaper and fast-growing meat in its labs. In India, Udaipur-based startup Good Dot is involved in making “vegetarian meat” by using plants.
The Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai has joined hands with nonprofit The Good Food Institute India are all set to research upon the plant-based meat. Major food giants like Tyson, Perdue, Nestlé, and Smithfield are now focusing on meatless products and this is a breakthrough in itself.
2. Let’s Look At The Science Of Alternative Meat?
Green meats are derived from soya, jackfruit, and mushrooms. Now, the research is being done on the taste and feel and to what extent they are similar to the real meat. Many companies are also achieving this by combining plant-based products with natural fats from coconut or sunflower oil, cocoa butter, etc.
Companies like Good Dot, use yeast as a derivative to get that meaty flavour. One of the European Union-funded Smart Protein project is making use of spent yeast and some other byproducts by manufacturing of pasta, bread, and beer.
Impossible Foods has further said that it has come up with vegan heme (or haem), which is a iron-containing molecule which is seen in all living organisms and this is widely is believed to be make the meat tastier.
Impossible Foods states that they get their heme from protein soy leghemoglobin which is present in natural soy roots. But this is produced through genetic engineering and fermentation. This is the way to make the green meat taste like actual meat.
3. Estimate The Size Of The Alternative Meat Market?
As per an estimate last August, alternative meats are only 1% ($14 billion) of the total $1.4 trillion worldwide meat industry. But they are expected to increase their share to 10% in the next decade.
With increased consumer demand in US and Europe, investors are focused on the green meat and are relying on technology for the same.
When Beyond Meat released it’s IPO in May last year, it rose 163% above its base IPO price. As a result, it featured into the list of best performing IPO ever on the first-day since 2000. During the same time, ImAlternative Meatpossible Foods was able to raise $300 million in Series E round; whereas it has collected a total of $687.5 million from fundraising from the year 2011.
One of the cell-cultured meat startup named New Age Meat collected $2.7 million through seed funding. Gathered Foods, who are known for plant-based seafood Good Catch, collected $32 million through Series B funding. The shares of Beyond Meat jumped over 27% in January which is considered as it’s the best performance since July last year.
Now, the only thing which the experts hope that this trend does not die out soon just like the dotcom bubble of 90s.
4. Why Should We Consume Alternative Meats?
Long term sustainability is the most obvious answer. Livestock farming mostly for industrial reasons emit greenhouse gases in huge numbers. It has a major impact on our land and water resources. Whereas if switch to plant based and artificially produced meat then it will have a much smaller carbon footprint.
Other than that health benefits are also immense in this category. Cholesterol reduction, antibiotic resistance are some of the major pros. But there is another round of debate going on that this lab produced meats might not be that healthy as they are advertised to be.
A single (113 g) of the Impossible Burger 2.0 contains 370 mg sodium, which is actually four times more than the 75 mg/100 g on average in traditional meat. And of course the third most reason is moral. Reducing cruelty against animals will give us a major morale boost. And last but not the least there is food security.
For instance, in China millions of pigs and the swine flu epidemic had led to pork shortage. They are the world’s biggest consumer and producer of pork and this will definitely cast a negative shadow on the Spring Festival/New Year celebrations that is supposed to start super soon. While Impossible Pork was being launched, the company CEO said Asia is next focus owing to China.