Massive rise in sales of plant-based meat alternatives during pandemic
While great for the environment, it's symptomatic of massive problems
Sales of meat have taken a nosedive during the Covid-19 outbreak. While we would love to say it was because people had made the choice to change, the reality is altogether more sad.
With lockdown, people were unable to get to the shops to buy meat. Butchers were left with tonnes of unused stock and nowhere to sell it. Farmers were left with livestock they couldn't accommodate so, in America at least, thousands of animals have had to be culled.
Even as the world recovers and we get back up and running again, the meat industry is struggling due to a sceptical public. There have been many reports, founded or otherwise, of those working in meat processing establishments becoming sick and continuing working, contaminating the produce and potentially passing it on to those buying it.
The public's faith in the meat they are buying is at an all time low, so they have turned to alternatives.
Plant-based meat alternatives have been around for some time now – long enough for them to get tasty and to resemble something you may want to eat. Thank goodness that's the case, because there has been a 264% increase in sales in the second quarter of this year.
This surge is primarily from companies like Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and Tofurky. There have also been steep rises in purchases of meat alternatives such as beans and chickpeas.
Companies such as Beyond Meat have, generally, seen their share price increase over the last 12-18 months with more consumers interested in trying out a semi-meat free diet and more restaurants offering meat free alternatives. But the pandemic has offered an unexpected spike in interest.
The CEO of Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown, remains grounded about the upsurge, mindful of the fact it comes in the wake of near collapse of the meat industry. He said, "We’re not waving the flag saying, ‘This is great.’ It’s a tragic situation. Sure, we want to reach more people throughout the period, but overall, it’s a tough thing.”
Only time will tell if consumers remain so keen on the plant-based diet.