In this opinion piece, Bayer urges that for plant-based meat, the best is yet to come: “The current landscape does not spell trouble for most companies in the space. In fact, history promises that we’re just getting started,” he encourages.
Plant-Based Meat Industry: The Best is Yet To Come
By Eben Bayer
The plant-based market has been sparking something that can only be described as ‘headline whiplash’ lately. Contradicting messages splash across our screens, from “save the world” potential to “this too shall pass” doom and gloom. So, which one is it?
As a long-time problem solver and innovator, I’ve found guidance in a tried and true model explaining the arc of innovation — the Gartner hype cycle.
This does a terrific job of defining how a promising innovation enters the market with a bang, quickly gaining momentum, investments, and like-minded innovators. The excitement dies down as early industry leaders are met with pushback, challenges, and original shortcomings of the innovation are brought to light.
“I’m confident that we’ll meet the challenge, because as the hype cycle predicts, the best is yet to come.”
Other players continue to enter the space, wiser for the challenges faced by their trailblazers. Eventually, the innovation reaches stable maturity and steady growth, leaving the world a better place for it.
Eyes on the industry
From my vantage point, just because we’re seeing a slight dip in the industry — one that is shared across most markets in the current economy — it doesn’t mean the industry is done for. The current landscape does not spell trouble for most companies in the space. In fact, history promises that we’re just getting started.
Gone are the days when only a few brands dominate a booming industry. In fact, the plant-based industry is welcoming many new players offering more innovative solutions providing alternatives that don’t sacrifice sustainability, taste, or health — the trifecta of success in this space.
“Despite what the naysayers may imply, meat alternatives are not a fad, but a viable and more importantly necessary path forward for our planet”
Despite what the naysayers may imply, meat alternatives are not a fad, but a viable and more importantly necessary path forward for our planet as we combat unsustainable practices like industrial animal agriculture. Today we find ourselves in a crucial part of the innovation cycle, in which our industry is evolving and refining itself to better serve Spaceship Earth and those that inhabit it.
In this case, that happens through the food system, but it’s a pattern reflected throughout technology and other innovative industries.
Entering “plant-based 2.0”
At this point in the ‘hype cycle’ for plant-based meats, the category has been defined, consumers have taken an interest, and rapid product innovation will take hold and push the industry forward. The good news about innovation, as the cycle demonstrates, is that fads may come and go, but genuine innovations will weather the storm, and have the potential to truly reshape the world.
The next-generation offerings in this space — such as mycelium-based MyBacon — are solving the shortcomings of the overhyped first-generation players. In this case, we’re talking about a better replacement for mile-long, unpronounceable ingredient lists, and confusing nutritional and health claims, while also carving a widening space in the market moving forward.
The end result will give consumers a product they can feel good about (and understand!), while simultaneously helping to heal the planet.
“…fads may come and go, but genuine innovations will weather the storm”
We’re on a 50-year-long journey to rectify errors in the way we consume and source protein here on Earth. That is no small feat, but it’s mission-critical for our planet and for its people. I’m confident that we’ll meet the challenge, because as the hype cycle predicts, the best is yet to come.