The vege-bubble is turning to vege-bust

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I like these articles - this one from the Telegraph.

Those who jumped on the bandwagon are about to be burnt - and sizzled and fried as well

Matthew Lynn 26 June 2022 • 12:00pm
Matthew Lynn


vegan


It was healthier. It was better for the planet. And it freed up resources to be used elsewhere. Re-wind just a few years, and plant-based meats were the next big boom.
With more and more people switching to vegetarianism, and with worries about climate change dominating the headlines, lots of clever technology was pouring into different ways of making some mushed up soya beans or yellow peas into something that was virtually impossible to distinguish from a quarter-pound of ground beef or a strip of chicken.
And yet, right now all that is going into reverse. Kellogg’s is getting rid of its unit concentrating on plant-based meats. Supermarkets are clearing the shelves of alternative protein sandwiches. And the shares of some of the leaders of the sector such as Beyond Meat have crashed.
It turns out that the market is a lot smaller than some of the hype suggested.

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In reality, the ‘vege-bubble’ is rapidly turning into a ‘vege-bust’ And all the big companies and investors that jumped on the bandwagon are about to be burnt — and possibly sizzled and fried as well.
At one point the hoopla around plant-based meats made the dot com bubble of the turn of the century look rational by comparison.
When Beyond Meat listed its shares in New York in 2019 they soared 160pc on the first day of trading, and carried on climbing from there, in what turned out to be the hottest IPO of that year.
Investment in ‘food tech’, as it is known among investors, reached a record $12bn in 2021 and more than half of that went into meat alternatives.
A whole series of ‘unicorns’, as start-up companies worth more than $1bn are known, emerged, such as Impossible Foods and Eat Just. Alternative seafood is just as popular: Current Food, which makes plant-based tuna and salmon, raised $18m this month. Meat alternatives was one of the hottest tech industries in the world.
It was not hard to understand why. Food, after all, is one of the biggest industries (everyone has to eat). But the types of things we want to eat are changing all the time. In the UK alone, the number of vegans quadrupled between 2014 and 2020, and far more people were cutting back on the amount of meat they eat.
Add in worries over climate change, to which meat farming is a major contributor, and health concerns as well, especially for red meats, and there was a huge space for plant-based proteins. Anyone who could offer a burger that was made of beans but still tasted the same as the one that started in a field seemed to be onto a winner.
Yet right now there are signs the tide is turning. Last week the food giant Kellogg’s said it planned to spin-off and potentially sell its MorningStar farms unit that makes alternative meats. There had been some "irrational exuberance" in the sector, CEO Steve Cahillane said on a call with investors a month earlier. Whether Kellogg’s holds onto the unit or sells it off, it doesn’t seem to be a top priority anymore.
Over in this country, it emerged last week that Morrisons and Asda had dropped their meat-free sandwiches while Tesco had reduced the number it offers by a quarter. Meanwhile, the leader of the sector Beyond Meat has seen its share price drop by 82pc in the last year, hardly a sign that investors have much faith in its future any more. In reality, the whole sector may now be in serious trouble.
What went wrong? It turns out that despite all the technology and enthusiasm the manufacturers of plant-based meats face three big problems.
First, most of the meat and fish alternatives on the market so far are relatively expensive. At Ocado, a couple of Beyond Meat burgers cost £4.50, which, while not exactly a fortune, especially if you are saving the planet, is hardly a bargain either. On a restaurant menu, the plant based meat has typically been more expensive than the animal based version. When the economy was booming, jobs were plentiful, and real wages were rising, that was not a huge problem. Now that inflation is rampant, and food inflation most of all, it is a very different story. People want to save money on their weekly shop, and switching back to traditional meat is one of easiest ways to do that.
Next, production is a lot harder than anyone imagined, especially when it needs to be scaled up for the kind of quantities that are demanded by the big supermarket and restaurant chains. The alternative meats and fish are an impressive technical achievement, and taste virtually identical to the real thing. But they are still technically very challenging. Beyond Meat has still not made a profit despite being a high profile brand, and neither have many of its rivals. That is partly because the stuff is so expensive to produce. It is hardly a long-term recipe for success.
Finally, it didn’t deliver any real benefits. Most vegetarians are perfectly happy to stop eating meat, and don’t need faux burgers to placate them. The carnivores might have tried it once or twice but quickly lost interest especially as it became more expensive. Meanwhile, there was no real evidence that plant burgers and fake chicken were healthier or had fewer calories. Apart from a vague appeal to a consumer's morality, it does not have a lot going for it.
True, there will be a market for plant-based meats. Right now, it is estimated to have a global worth of $35bn, compared with $1.5 trillion for the global meat market. It is a significant niche. But it is not much more than that, and doesn’t look like becoming one anytime soon. In reality, the stock market and Big Food keep falling for fads. But very few of them prove to be durable. The ‘vege-bubble’ has already started to burst — and it does not look as if that is about to change anytime soon.
 

Tim W

Member
Location
Wiltshire
I would wager that within 10 (?) years you will be able to eat a plant based steak and not know the difference from the real thing
It may not be mainstream yet but the overriding sales factor will be price & it's only a matter of time ---

There is room in the world for all food types/diets/etc---constant running down of what we wrongly see as competitors is just stupid & gets no-one nowhere fast (that goes for folk on both sides of the ''argument'')
 

Highland Mule

Member
Livestock Farmer
In what way do you like them ? Schadenfreude ? Or do you see it as significant to your business ?
I’ll answer that. I see it as a relief that I still have an industry and a business. A relief that the misguided tide has been stopped before it could damage the planet and before ruminants such as cattle and sheep became little more than a novelty for zoos and safari parks. It’s a win for the environment, for the future of mankind and for my small flock and herd.
 

delilah

Member
I’ll answer that. I see it as a relief that I still have an industry and a business. A relief that the misguided tide has been stopped before it could damage the planet and before ruminants such as cattle and sheep became little more than a novelty for zoos and safari parks. It’s a win for the environment, for the future of mankind and for my small flock and herd.

Did you have fake meat in your 'top three' of threats to your business ? If so, do you see it having dropped out of your top three on the back of this news story ?
Because it doesn't make my top 10.
 

Highland Mule

Member
Livestock Farmer
Did you have fake meat in your 'top three' of threats to your business ? If so, do you see it having dropped out of your top three on the back of this news story ?
Because it doesn't make my top 10.
It’s not top 3, no - not as specific as that. But look beyond the fake meat at the motivation for its growth. A strong (misguided) tide of public opinion away from ruminant meat production is not just a threat to my business but to society at large and our ability to feed ourselves.
 

DaveGrohl

Member
Location
Cumbria
I would wager that within 10 (?) years you will be able to eat a plant based steak and not know the difference from the real thing
It may not be mainstream yet but the overriding sales factor will be price & it's only a matter of time ---

There is room in the world for all food types/diets/etc---constant running down of what we wrongly see as competitors is just stupid & gets no-one nowhere fast (that goes for folk on both sides of the ''argument'')
Did you miss the bit where he said they’re expensive to produce? With that level of processing you’d expect it to taste similar but it doesn't seem to from what I’ve read of other people’s opinions. I’ve never tasted any myself and have no intention to, I’m perfectly happy eating vegetables as Mother Earth intended.

I agree that there’s room for all types/diets/etc though. And I do think Lynn is rather over-egging his declaration of the vegan bandwagon being over. He does tend to do over-egging, I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff in Money Week. The story is really about Big Money realising the vegans aren’t paved with anything like as much gold as they'd hoped. It’s not going away any time soon but the narrative is becoming tired as people "give it a go" in the sense of surveys being conducted, but what they do in the supermarket as time goes on is a different matter.

Holding Beyond Meat’s share price up as game over isn’t proof of anything. It’s a share price. It’s built on unrealistic expectations by large numbers of mug punters. The founders will prob have taken most of their money out long ago, at the expense of the mugs. Que sera sera. Twas ever thus in the stockmarket. BM will no doubt be taken over on due course, might even be by a company heavily involved in meat production and sale. Shell have quite a renewable portfolio after all as an example.
 

DaveGrohl

Member
Location
Cumbria
I’ll answer that. I see it as a relief that I still have an industry and a business. A relief that the misguided tide has been stopped before it could damage the planet and before ruminants such as cattle and sheep became little more than a novelty for zoos and safari parks. It’s a win for the environment, for the future of mankind and for my small flock and herd.
Has the tide been stopped? From where I stand the tsunami of misinformation is still progressing.
 

DaveGrohl

Member
Location
Cumbria
You think that is the driver of fake meat ? OK.

I am just interested in why these stories get so much coverage on here.
I’ll answer that. It’s because Big Money (and you're not a fan of that) is pushing everyone into believing that removing meat and (in due course) plants from the food supply chain will be better for everyone and the planet too. Their food supply chain, the food chain of their dreams. You know fine well that they won’t stop at meat.

Big Money wants to be Bigger Money, it knows nothing else.
 

PSQ

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Scottish Borders
You think that is the driver of fake meat ? OK.

I am just interested in why these stories get so much coverage on here.

I'm an arable farmer, I have no 'skin in the game'.

But I'm also a consumer, and I don't like my friends and family being lied to by corporations intent on selling ultra processed sh!t on the pretence that they're "saving the planet one meal at time":

The Vegetarian Butcher - owned by Unilever.

Califia Farms - a brand Oat 'milk' (click the link!) on the illusion that it's better for the planet. In reality it's manufactured near Barcelona in Spain, and then trucked 2000km to my local Sainsbury's.

Quorn, a protein originally developed by ICI as a cattle feed, created in vats of Fusarium Venenatum fungus, hydrolysed starch solution and ammonia. But it's good for the planet and global warming right? Funnily enough, Mo Farrah doesn't mention that it produces a vast amount of CO2 as it's being produced. But it's 'safe to eat', as it was tested on Baboons and many other species in the 70's and 80's.

Tesco, the purveyors of the finest horse meat and bulls**t, commits to 300% increase in meat alternatives while cosying up to the WWF (who should really know better), while flying in the cheapest produce it can find from anywhere on the planet.
 
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Tim W

Member
Location
Wiltshire
Did you miss the bit where he said they’re expensive to produce? With that level of processing you’d expect it to taste similar but it doesn't seem to from what I’ve read of other people’s opinions. I’ve never tasted any myself and have no intention to, I’m perfectly happy eating vegetables as Mother Earth intended.
Expensive to produce now ---but give it some time to develop & it may be different
Same with taste & texture ---it will take time to perfect

I agree ---it's not for me but that doesn't mean others wont like it

I'd try it in a taste test ---i might be surprised, just as i was when i tried 14 different steaks and found that the best by far was from a Holstein!
 
I would wager that within 10 (?) years you will be able to eat a plant based steak and not know the difference from the real thing
It may not be mainstream yet but the overriding sales factor will be price & it's only a matter of time ---

There is room in the world for all food types/diets/etc---constant running down of what we wrongly see as competitors is just stupid & gets no-one nowhere fast (that goes for folk on both sides of the ''argument'')


All processed food to date has led to higher rates of Cancer, Dietry & Weight problems - I have no doubt this processed food will be no different.
 

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

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Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
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