Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Alt meat may be juicy biz

Alt meat may be juicy biz

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Items like the ‘Impossible Whopper’ at Burger King are driving a boom in plant-based meat. AFP

Alt meat may be juicy biz

No longer at the food fringes, plant-based meats are selling well in supermarkets and emerging as a hot commodity for fast food chains, industrial food companies and Wall Street investors.

JPMorgan Chase has estimated the market for plant-based meat could easily top $100 billion in 15 years.

Barclays says the “alternative meat” market could account for around 10 per cent of all global meat sales, or up to $140 billion in 10 years.

Among big restaurant chains, Burger King has been testing since April a vegetarian version of its flagship “Whopper”, while McDonald’s has unveiled a meatless burger in Germany. Kentucky Fried Chicken is studying non-meat options for its menu.

Alternatives to meat are not new, of course, but start-ups and other growing players in the business have taken advantage of newer technologies to simulate the taste and texture of authentic meat more comprehensively.

At the same time, more consumers are opting for plant-based products out of concern for the environment, animal welfare or for health reasons.

The best-known new ventures, Impossible Food and Beyond Meat, have had difficulty at times meeting surging demand for their products, even as Wall Street has bet on their potential.

On its first day on Wall Street as a publicly-traded company, Beyond Meat surged 163 per cent, finishing the session at $65.75.

Since then, shares have more than doubled, ending Friday’s session at $139.13, up a stunning 39.4 per cent after the company said it anticipates sales growth of 140 per cent.

Impossible Burger, which is already sold in more than 7,000 restaurants in the US and Asia, recently raised $300 million in a financing round that valued the company at $2 billion.

Enter food giants

Among large food companies, Swiss giant Nestle in April launched its “Incredible Burger” in Europe based on soy, wheat and extracts of beetroot and other plants.

In the fall, Nestle plans to offer a pea-based “Sweet Earth” veggie burger in the US.

Anglo-Dutch company Unilever last year bought the Vegetarian Butcher, which has said it aims to become the “largest butcher in the world” with plant-based meat.

US company Kellogg has been present in alternative meat since the 1970s through MorningStar Farms. While the brand has not enjoyed the same outsized gains of late as the newer players, it remains the biggest producer in the US.

Others active in the burgeoning business include Brazilian giant JBS, which is launching a vegetarian burger in its home market, and Tyson Foods, a one-time investor in Beyond Meat that plans its own plant-based product.

Sales of alternative meat jumped 23 per cent last year in the US, according to the Food Institute.

Yet that accounts for just one per cent of the total market for meat, much lower than the 13 per cent of milk represented by non-dairy sources such as soy, almond and coconut.

In spite of the strong potential, analysts caution against losing sight of some uncertainties facing the industry.

“There are risk factors to consider, such as alternative meat products being less healthy than claimed as a result of additives to appeal to customer taste,” said the Barclays note.

Barclays also pointed to “potential regulatory restrictions” as far as marketing. For example, farm groups have lobbied Washington to restrict the term “meat” to animal-based products.

Also, there is always a risk that emerging stars in the business could be roiled by a recall, said JPMorgan.

And the impact of mistakes could be amplified by the growing presence of bigger and more diversified companies that are racing into the market. The conventional companies also have sophisticated supply chains and ready access to capital.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,