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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

E.U. Considering Restrictions on Labeling of Vegetable-Based Meat Substitutes


Following a 2017 decision by the European Parliament concerning labeling of substitute milk and dairy products derived from other than cows, the E.U. Agriculture Committee proposed restrictions on labeling of vegetable-based protein. It is intended that any term which relates to meat derived from animals including “steak, sausage, burger et al” will be disallowed for plant-based substitutes. The ultimate decision will be the responsibility of the European Parliament and if passed as expected, a lengthy process of approval by each member state will be required before the policy decision is implemented.

According to the Mintel Group, barriers to adoption of plant-based meat substitutes include positioning in a store, concern by consumers over preparation and serving and unfamiliarity with a new product. In the U.S., lack of availability in many supermarkets and high price relative to meat substitutes disfavor market growth of this segment. Proponents of plant-based protein claim a high recent annual growth in sales value with an increase of 6 percent in 2017 to 24 percent in 2018. This should be compared to two percent for animal-derived meat in the most recent year. Obviously one must consider the base for the calculations of relative growth rates. “Real” meat sales in 2018 attained $90 billion compared to plant-based protein alternatives at $1 billion.

An editorial on the proposed IPO of Beyond Meat in EGG-NEWS (accessible under the SEARCH tab), highlighted the cost of production of meat substitutes and the need to sell at a discount to encourage trial purchases by consumers. Plant- based meat substitutes will not achieve significant market penetration in competition with “real” meat products simply on the basis of claimed sustainability and welfare considerations. The affluent demographic sensitive to these attributes is obviously limited and probably avoids meat in any event.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane