The Fake-Meat Market Gets a Boost From COVID-19

As we face a meat shortage, many are turning to plant-based alternatives

Beyond Burgers from plant-based company Beyond Meat
If real burgers disappear from shelves, will you try Beyond Burger?
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
By Bonnie Stiernberg / May 20, 2020 12:30 pm

With meatpacking facilities across the country closed after becoming hotbeds for COVID-19, we’ve got a meat shortage on our hands. And as a new Wired piece points out, that has led more and more people to turn to “alternative meat products” from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, accelerating the already-impressive rise of faux meat.

Part of that shift is due to the fact that fake meat obviously doesn’t rely on livestock, meaning it’s easier for companies to ramp up production to avoid a shortage in supply.

“We’re in the early stages of ramping the entire supply chain,” Impossible Foods president Dennis Woodside told Wired. “Our belief is that over time, we will get down to the same pricing, if not lower pricing, lower costs, than the animal because of effectively taking the middleman out.”

As Wired notes, it’s also easier for alternative meat companies to continue production during the pandemic, while traditional meat-packing facilities have been forced to close over social distancing and other safety concerns during the outbreak.

“The facilities processing plant-based meat ingredients are cleaner, they’re safer, they’re more highly automated,” Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement at the Good Food Institute, told the publication. “Extruders can turn ingredients into meat. So there’s no hanging of animals or chopping of animal carcasses to create cuts of meat.”

“It’s much easier to social distance in a plant-based meat manufacturing plant, which is significantly more automated than a slaughterhouse,” she added.

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