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

Plant-Based Meat Substitutes Will Benefit from Temporary Shortage of Animal Protein


Companies such Beyond Meat Inc., Impossible Foods and their clones are capitalizing on the transitory shortage of pork and beef and to a lesser extent chicken during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.  It is estimated that pork and beef production may be impacted by thirty percent although there is evidence that plants are reopening albeit at less than optimal production rates.  The current situation involving disruption in the supply chain from farms to consumers is regarded as transitory and equilibrium will soon be restored between supply and demand.


In the interim, those promoting meat alternatives are making claims as to gains in market share at the expense of the $200 billion U.S. meat industry.  It is questioned whether production capacity for alternatives to meat can be expanded to compensate for the current supply disruptions affecting pork and beef. The area in which alternatives to red meat have scored relates to awareness among shoppers since it is evident that trial purchases of substitutes for ground beef have increased.  It is clear that placement of meat substitutes in coolers has influenced purchase patterns. 


Despite a two-fold increase in grocery store purchases of meat alternatives during March and April, the actual incremental dollar value of $25 million is dwarfed by the $3.8 billion increase in fresh meat sales.  Meat substitutes that appeared in supermarket coolers during March and April were effectively diverted from the collapsed food-service sector that led consumption of alternatives through 2019.


With resumption of production from beef and pork plants and the continuous supply of chicken and turkey, consumers will in all probability return to their favorite protein products with occasional purchases of meat alternatives.  Going forward, economic factors will influence purchase patterns as observers predict a slow recovery with frugal shoppers.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane