A highly revealing and impactful new report has been released today by RethinkX, which predicts the most disruptive change in modern times, with dairy and cattle industries collapsing by 2030. It states that “society should be prepared for the dramatic changes to an industry that has not seen this scale of disruption in thousands of years.”
RethinkX is an independent think tank that analyzes and forecasts technology-driven disruptions and the implications to society. This current study predicts the collapse of dairy and cattle industries by 2030, as traditional meat is replaced by cheaper, higher quality food made from manufactured protein. It states that “the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruption of food and agriculture in ten thousand years, driven by technology and new business models, is underway.
“Given the magnitude of the disruption, society should be prepared for the dramatic changes to an industry that has not seen this scale of disruption in thousands of years,” say the authors.
According to the thinktank, the dairy and cattle industries will have completely collapsed by 2030 as traditional meats and animal ingredients are replaced by modern equivalents that are higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce, with the rest of the livestock industry following a similar fate.
The report refers to this disruption as “death by a thousand cuts.” Product after product that comes from the cow will be replaced by cheaper, higher-quality modern foods, triggering a death spiral of increasing prices, decreasing demand and reversing economies of scale for the industrial livestock industry.
“This is primarily a protein disruption, driven by economics,” said co-author Tony Seba.“This is not one disruption but many in parallel, with each overlapping, reinforcing, and accelerating the others.”
Key points from the report include:
- Industry Impacts
- By 2030, the number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50%. Production volumes of the U.S. beef and dairy industries and their suppliers will be cut by more than half.
- By 2030, the market for ground beef by volume will have shrunk by 70%, the steak market by 30% and the dairy market by almost 90%. The markets for other cow products (leather, collagen, etc.) are likely to decline by more than 90%. In total, demand for cow products will fall by 70%.
- By 2030, the U.S. dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed, leaving only local specialty farms in operation.
- By 2035, demand for cow products will fall by 80%-90% and U.S. beef and dairy industry (and their suppliers) revenues, at current prices, will be down nearly 90%.
- Farmland values will collapse by 40%-80%.
- The volume of crops needed to feed cattle in the U.S. will fall by 50% from 155 million tons in 2018 to 80 million tons in 2030, causing cattle feed production revenues, at current prices, to fall by more than 50% from 60 billion in 2019 to less than $30 billion in 2030.
- Other livestock industries will suffer similar disruptions, while the knock-on effects for crop farmers and businesses throughout the value chain will be severe.
- Food Cost Savings
- The cost of modern foods and products will be at least 50% and as much as 80% lower than the animal products they replace, which will translate into substantially lower prices and increased disposable incomes. The average U.S. family will save more than $1,200 a year in food costs, keeping an additional $100 billion a year in Americans’ pockets by 2030.
- Jobs Lost and Gained
- Half of the 1.2 million jobs in U.S. beef and dairy production (including supply chain), along with their associated industries, will be lost by 2030, climbing toward 90% by 2035.
- The emerging U.S. modern foods industry will create at least 700,000 jobs by 2030 and up to 1 million jobs by 2035.
- Modern foods will be far more efficient than animal-derived products: Up to 100 times more land efficient, 10-25 times more feedstock efficient, 20 times more time efficient, and 10 times more water efficient than industrial livestock. They will also produce an order of magnitude less waste.
- By 2035, 60% of the land currently used for livestock and feed production will be freed for other uses. These 485 million acres equate to 13 times the size of Iowa, an area almost the size of the Louisiana Purchase. If all this land were dedicated to maximize carbon sequestration, all current sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions could be fully offset by 2035.
- U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from cattle will drop by 60% by 2030, on course to nearly 80% by 2035. Even when the modern food production that replaces animal agriculture is included, net emissions from the sector as a whole will decline by 45% by 2030, on course to 65% by 2035.
- Water consumption in cattle production and associated feed cropland irrigation will fall by 50% by 2030, on course to 75% by 2035. Even when the modern food production that replaces animal agriculture is included, net water consumption in the sector as a whole will decline by 35% by 2030, on course to 60% by 2035.
- Oil demand from the U.S. agriculture industry (currently 150 million barrels of oil equivalent a year) will fall by at least 50% by 2030.
- The modern food system will be decentralized and therefore more stable and resilient, thereby increasing food security.
- Nutritional benefits could have profound impact on health, particularly conditions such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes that are estimated to cost the U.S. $1.7 trillion each year. The way they are produced should also ensure a sharp reduction in foodborne illness.
- Trade relations and geo-politics will shift due to a decentralized food production system.
- Any country will be able to capture the opportunities associated with a global industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars.