Plant-based meat industry is growing, but challenges remain


A visitor tries a plant-based meat substitute product on November 11, 2020 at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong at the Restaurant & Bar and Gourmet Asia Expo.

Peter Park | AFP | Getty Images

Analysts said the demand for meat substitutes has increased and will continue, but there are still hurdles to overcome in this industry in different parts of the world.

According to Google Trends, a worldwide search for the term “plant-based meat” occurred in 2019 months before Beyond Meat’s initial public offering.

Market research company Euromonitor told CNBC that the global meat substitutes sector is worth $ 20.7 billion, and is set to grow to $ 23.2 billion by 2024.

This development is driven by concerns ranging from animal welfare to food security and the Kovid-19 epidemic.

“In this era of setbacks and volatility, the creation of a low-risk value chain means where the opportunities are, and there are no signs of slowing the shift towards plant-based meat,” said Ellen CU, managing director of The Good Food . “Institute Asia Pacific.

But barriers to the market remain.

Cultural barriers

Siu said the plant-based meat market in Asia may be limited by limited perception issues.

For example, fake meat or vegetarian meat was primarily consumed by followers of earlier Buddhism in China.

“The replication of meat’s taste and texture was never extended beyond a relatively basic level,” he said, adding that these traditional products serve a specific purpose and that some groups “see their appeal limited”.

“For plant-based meat to reach its full market potential in Asia, the region must continue to break free from its union with traditional fake meat, which is expected to be sold at low price points and carry historic image goods . ” Say said.

Objections from the traditional meat industry

Cattle farmers can also stand in the way of an alternative protein field, particularly in the US, said Simon Powell, global head of thematic research at US bank Jefferies.

The US Catalus Association petitioned for an official definition of “beef” and “meat” in 2018 in a bid to keep plant-based proteins out of the details.

On May 4, 2020, a herd of beef cattle gathers in the shadow of an old barn in Owens, Maryland.

Mark Wilson Getty Image News | Getty Images

“Manufacturers are going to lobby their governments to change their labeling so that consumers can play with the ads,” Powell told CNBC. “I think that’s potentially one of the biggest obstacles.”

The European Union in October rejected proposals to ban the use of restaurants and shops such as sausages or burgers when describing alternatives to meat.

Consumer Confidence, Consumer Fatigue

Powell said that if any of the plant-based meat companies had an “accident of some sort” or a problem with their recipe, resulting in a “massive recall”, customers might be afraid to eat these options.

“It’s a big ‘if’ … but if they should have a big recall of the product, then there could be a loss in consumer confidence,” he said. “At some point, you’re going to get these events. It’s going to set the industry back a little bit.”

Separately, Powell said that the “Instagramability” of plant-based food is one reason the market is growing “everywhere in the world”. He said that if the novelty of meat substitutes in the market fades or deteriorates then the growth of the market may be hampered.

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