TIME has declared “Impossible Pork” of Impossible Foods as one of the best inventions of 2020. That is not a coincidence but a sign of the bright future of a rapidly growing industry. According to the market research done by Good Food Institute, the grocery sales of plant-based substitutes of animal products increased by 27% compared to the last year (in dollar sales). This growth is nearly twice as in the food industry in general in 2021, and it is 2.5 times bigger in the previous two years; also, it is three times faster than the animal-based market. According to Goldman Sachs, the plant-based meat market will reach a market cap of $140 billion in 2050. It means that it will surpass animal-based meat production.
Impossible Foods, the company behind Impossible Pork, has raised $180 million in three years. That is quite impressive because it entered the market when the general public was not interested in plant-based meat. In the last few years, there has been increased interest in plant-based meat from investors. It has led to a growth of 300%. Impossible Foods can be considered as an example because it was able to raise so much money and to increase its market value 20 times after it entered the market.
So, what makes plant-based meat so special? Nowadays, 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal production. This figure is about the same as the one caused by the food industry (9%) in 2005.
Also, the number of livestock animals in the world has doubled in the last 50 years. It is quite surprising because the population of this planet has only increased by 50% since then. Livestock animals are causing two-thirds of all land use on our planet (1/3 of it is used for grazing). So, what is the problem with land use? More than 80% of all freshwater consumption and 40% of all raw materials are caused by livestock.
In 2016, on average 30% of soybeans, 21% of maize, and 17% of wheat were used to produce animal feed. Thanks to plant-based meat alternatives this use could be reduced by 25%, 50%, and 75%, respectively. This would mean that no soybeans, maize, and wheat would be used for animal feed, which means that greenhouse gas emissions could be saved by a third in 10 years.
Plant-based meat has also an impact on land use. According to a study by the University of Oxford, it is possible to be freed up almost half of the land (47%) by 2050. Because some plants are more efficient in absorbing nitrogen and water, they require less space in comparison to conventional agriculture.
The benefits of plant-based meat are not only applied to the environment but also can be applied to health. Vegetarian diets are healthier than those including animal meat, and it is possible to be saved their costs by more than half (43%) in 2050. There are also some health benefits associated with plant-based meat alternatives. For example, Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger has no cholesterol, hormones, or antibiotics.
On top of that, the demand for plant-based meat is increasing every year. One indicator for this is the rise in Google searches for “vegan menu” and “vegan restaurant”. The increase in this search has been 84% and 59%, respectively, since 2012. The availability of plant-based meats could grow rapidly because there’s no reason for companies to stop production when there’s an increase in sales.
Another example of this is the growth of Impossible Meat. In just a year, the sales of Impossible Burger have grown by 8 times. When the burger was first introduced in 2016, it was only available in three restaurants and one food truck. Just one year later almost 50 restaurants were offering it. A similar trend can be seen with vegetarian meat alternatives in general as well. For example, Tofurky has increased its sales by 29% in 2017 and 34% in 2018 compared to 2016.
Currently, about 1% of people consume plant-based meat every month, but if the trends continue, it can become a common thing for everyone to do overtime.
These indicators show plant-based meat has a positive impact on the environment and health as well as it is a highly profitable industry. Decreasing meat consumption would benefit the environment and health of people all around the world. The market for plant-based meat has been rapidly growing and is showing no signs of slowing down. That is why companies should start producing more plant-based meats now because, by 2050, it could be commonplace.