Plant-based meat needs animal-based prices

August 24, 2020 |

Despite widespread appeal among consumers, plant-based meat still faces a significant challenge to taking a meaningful chunk of the American meat market: price.

According to an in-depth feature by explanatory journalism site, “meatless meat” makes up less than 1% of US meat consumption. It also costs significantly more; the outlet notes that a pound of Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger costs $6.25 per pound, far more than conventional beef burgers’ cost of $2.80 per pound. The price differential is amplified by the fact that the livestock industry works at massive scale and often ignores animal and worker welfare.

“The most processed cheap forms of chicken are just insanely cheap, relative to historical standards and relative to other food products on the market,” Lewis Bollard, a researcher at the Open Philanthropy Project, says. “The chicken industry has managed to cut all their corners, they don’t pay their environmental bills, they don’t pay for a lot of the public health hazards they cause. They have managed to produce a product that is just artificially cheap and hard to compete with.”

Zak Weston, a researcher at the Good Food Institute, expects the price of plant-based meats to come closer to parity with animal meat. “It really just boils down to scale and optimization. Developing operational efficiency is something that takes years, and the animal ag industry has a multi-decade head start on this. As the quantity produced goes up, we’ll be able to drive up operational efficiencies,” he said.

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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