The awful war in Ukraine shines a spotlight on the breadbasket of Europe. It is the #1 producer of sunflower seeds, the #6 producer of corn and the #9 producer of wheat and soy. Corn, wheat and soy are grown not only for people. They are also the primary feed for the 80 billion land animals we slaughter and eat annually.
There are over 10x more factory farmed animals than people on earth at any given time. It takes 77% of our agricultural land to raise animals and their feed. Thus, we use our limited resources of land, water and time to feed food to living animals, which the industry treats as food, not to people. This is inefficient and causes enormous food insecurity issues, which are exacerbated by war and/or COVID as supply chains are disrupted.
The meat industry is keenly aware of this bad business equation. This is why companies like JBS and Cargill are re-branding to be "protein" companies: so they can start adding value to food made from protein-filled grains and plants and feed them directly to people, instead of animals. It makes business sense.
The Business Bottom Line: Why Are We Feeding Food to Animals, consider food by the industry? Shouldn't We Feed Food to People?
Across the globe, meat companies are pivoting to create more food that is more nutritious, using less resources which ultimately means less money. JBS, Tyson, Maple Leaf, Smithfield, Jensen Meats, Hormel, Nestle, Danone and others all have plant-based products.
So, is plant-based eating a fad? No, industry won't let it be. They need it to disrupt the current system to feed a growing population efficiently: using fewer resources for greater output. They need plant-based products for growing their bottom line.
What Does This Mean For Investing?
Will plant-based eating fade away? No, plant-based eating and a plant-based lifestyle are here to stay. The meat industry, a growing number of consumers and the plant-based innovation sector all want it to stay. Plant-based innovations include fermented proteins and cultivated meat grown outside of animals using plant-derived sugars.
How fast will change come? Fast. Animal agriculture is ripe for disruption. It is inefficient, and negatively impacts climate change, animals and human health. It no longer serves us.
Enter the game changers: Oatly replaces dairy, Beyond Meat replaces burgers and sausage, Ingredion works with Perfect Day and The Every Company for animal protein replacements, and Ambries and Ginkgo BioWorks replace animal fat in cosmetics and animal heme in meat products, respectively.
These companies and many more in the VegTech™ Invest Index are: 1) disrupting the food supply system as part of a secular trend toward a more efficient, healthy and eco-friendly way of eating and living, and 2) leading the change for people, the public and animals.
Your personal bottom line: 1) do you want a portion of your investments to reflect the change you want for your future generations, and 2) do you want to participate in the next big secular trend?
At VegTech™ Invest, we believe that when you align your investment dollars with your values you will see meaningful change in the world. It can't happen soon enough.
Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech Invest, MP of Plant Powered Consulting and the Host of The Plant-based Business Hour.