As Bill Nye the Science Guy said recently in a video on The Daily Show, “our planet is on fire.” And after witnessing recent catastrophic natural disasters, such as the Californian wildfires, cyclones in South East Asia, and flooding in Mozambique; paired with global droughts, pollution, and rising sea levels, it’s clear that the earth is facing extreme climate change. Yet again, Bill Nye isn’t wrong in his environmental claim.
With that being said, more people around the world are looking for alternative ways to consume protein, avoiding meat, fish, and animal by-products. The myths of climate change are deteriorating as people now understand it’s a fact rather than fiction. As human beings are the biggest consumers, the best place to make a change is by looking at what we eat. And this is an excellent start as livestock farming contributes around 6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Until recently, there weren’t many options for those looking for alternative sources of protein other than beans and soy. But there are millions of vegans around the world who control consumer spending. Yet, companies didn’t see the profit in creating non-meat based foods as they didn’t think there was a high enough demand. But those numbers are changing. With the increase of environmental awareness, vegetarianism and veganism around the world, the future of beef is looking plant-based and the stock market can prove it.
The moment came in the middle of a down market Tuesday with one stock shined above the rest. Investors were racing for shares in Beyond Meat (BYND), the producers of plant-based meat products currently being sold at various supermarkets such as Whole Foods, and selected fast food restaurants. Since their public market debut on May 2, they’ve risen more than 240% within two weeks. In other words, investors can’t get enough of fake meat.
And Beyond Meat is just an example of plant-based success as it isn’t the only plant-based company to enter the market. Impossible Foods, another plant-based meat producer has raised over $750 million since 2011, attracting celebrity investors such as Jay-Z, Katy Perry, will.i.am, and Serena Williams. CFO David Lee of Impossible Foods states on Yahoo Finance’s daily live show that,
“At Impossible Foods, what we’ve seen [are] huge increases in demand across our 7,000 locations we have today. But importantly we’re also seeing large, important players in the industry, like RBI (QSR), which owns Burger Kings, announce on their own earnings call that they’d like to see Impossible Burgers across all 7,200 of their locations in the U.S.”
And this is just the beginning. Impossible Foods, for example, uses 75 percent less water, generates 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and uses one-twentieth of land in comparison to beef. If these companies can produce on a significant scale, these products will cost one-tenth of beef. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the future success of alternative meat on all sides. With the support of essential players in the food industry and its success in the stock market, the future of fake meat is looking very bright.
At the moment, alternative meat products are still higher priced than traditional meat. The cost of alternative meat is an obstacle as many people would like to switch to plant-based meat, but cannot afford to. However, it looks like that’s about to change soon. With climate change and African Swine Fever in China, the meat industry will be facing significant challenges in the upcoming future. Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard states,
“The African Swine Fever situation in China could drive global meat prices up sharply, across pork, beef, and chicken. As this price escalation plays out, it seems likely that the relative price of plant-based burgers will start to look relatively less expensive, which could also boost over the next couple of years.”
With this shift, it puts plant-based meat in a very good position. As meat prices rise, many people will be pushed to choose plant-based meat as a budget-friendly option. In other words, the word is going meatless whether we like it or not. This will have drastic effects on the meat industry and the environment, as 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are generated by livestock. Of course, let’s not kid ourselves. Most investors aren’t entering the stock market with the planet’s well-being in mind. However, this one investment that’s going to make a positive impact.
The world is our home; there’s no insurance claim we can fill out if we destroy it. We’re not going to get a cheque in the mail and a slap on the wrist. The consequences of destroying our planet are detrimental to our species. But change is coming, and the biggest meatless win for veganism was seen at the stock market.