As supply chains for traditional livestock products falter in countries across the globe, plant-based meat alternatives are filling the void.
In this WIRED story, science writer Matt Simon explains the meat supply problem as it exists in the US: ‘The distribution infrastructure that normally gets plenty of beef, pork, and chicken to American grocery stores has begun to buckle as meatpacking facilities become COVID-19 hot spots and shutter, leaving farmers with nowhere to send their animals. Those livestock are consequently growing too big to process, so farmers across the Midwest are having to gas or shoot tens of thousands of animals and throw them away, all while millions of Americans are going hungry.’
Australia faces similar problems, albeit on a smaller scale.
‘The core problem behind this wastefulness is the convoluted way we consume protein’, Simon states, outlining a supply chain hampered by ‘a whole lot of middlemen, and more links in the supply chain that can snap’.
In recent years, however, ‘alternatives have emerged, promising to cut out those middlemen’: firms such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which ‘skip the livestock entirely’, turning plant material into a striking imitation of real meat in high-tech, largely automated facilities; and those growing animal cells in labs to make ground-meat products such as chorizo – and, one day, lab-produced steaks.
‘Given their simplified supply chains, might such alternative proteins rocket into widespread consumption during the pandemic, supplanting traditional meat?’ Simon asks.
Source: Covid Is Accelerating the Rise of Faux Meat I WIRED