Article by Sally Ho for Green Queen
Startups working on plant-based substitutes for animal products are now raking in capital as investor sentiment for the conventional meat industry goes awry. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of industrial meat, from increasing numbers of outbreaks in meat-processing plants and empty supplies of beef and pork in supermarkets to the public health dangers of industrial meat farming.
This meat crisis has become a big opportunity for plant-based protein companies that have developed healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional animal products. Consumers, now more concerned about food safety than ever before, are now increasingly in favour of plant-based proteins. Investors too are beginning to have higher hopes for the sector, with more money pouring into food techs amidst the coronavirus crisis.
Here are some statistics that have emerged in just the past few weeks.
1. Beyond Meat sees shares jump 49% last month
It’s been one year since the leading Silicon Valley vegan food tech went public, and while it has been a rollercoaster with ups and downs along the way after it broke the record for the best performing IPO in 2019, shares of BYND have stayed afloat. In the last month, BYND experienced a healthy 49% jump that analysts attribute to rising widespread consumer interest in plant-based foods, meat supply shocks as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and multiple high-profile partnerships, particularly its groundbreaking launch across all 3,300 Starbucks locations in China.
2. Vegan meat sales have doubled
In the United States, sales of vegan meat jumped by a staggering 280% in the second week of March compared to the same period last year, as the country became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. According to consumer data group Nielsen, this has lasted throughout April, with sales continuing to jump 200% in mid-month compared to the same period last year.
3. Big meat wants in on the vegan market
The growth of plant-based meat alternatives has been steady over the past few years, but the pronounced jump in consumer interest in the last months and weeks – especially now as meat processing plants face forced closures – are prompting big meat corporations to rethink their business strategy. Huge companies such as Tyson, Smithfield and Hormel Foods had already been investing in plant-based alternatives prior to the pandemic, but will be aggressively rolling out more vegan options in a bid to diversify their business model and weather external shocks like the coronavirus. Tyson’s own brand of vegan meat is slated to launch in the summer this year, for example.