The Cattle Range Home Page
January 8, 2018
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Plant Based Proteins... Burger of the Future

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Plant Based Proteins... Burger of the Future
Ag Center Cattle Report

A few small but extremely well financed companies are introducing a new competitor in the protein market and it is striking at the longest standing icon of Americana -- the all American hamburger. The national chain TGI Friday placed the plant based patty on the menu in its 400+ restaurants this past week. The offerings from the designer labs are created to look like and taste like traditional meat fare but be cleaner, more environmentally friendly and healthier.

One of the companies, Beyond Meat, is designing products to look exactly like traditional burgers and sausages and other recognizable meat products. The audience they are targeting is young people and their advertising campaigns feature young, attractive athletes heralding the benefits of plant based proteins like no cholesterol, lower fat, less saturated fat, no GMOs or gluten and healthier all around. These health claims are accompanied by larger goals of reducing global warming and protecting animal rights.

The beef industry would be remiss to discount this initiative and the plant based meat campaign strikes at the heart of the beef industry's future -- young people. Young people want to know more about the food they eat and how it is produced. In order to attract the young to our beef products, more information must be provided and in a form that will resonate with them on a personal level. The larger food companies are introducing ideas for supply chain links taking the consumer back through the supply chain to see, hear and understand how the product is created.

The message must include explanations of production practices that are environmentally sound and sustainable. Producers also must be able to show how animal treatment throughout the beef pipeline is sensitive to the animal's needs of good health, proper care, and sound nutrition. An explanation of the benefits of beef in the diet is critical to the consumers decisions at the purchase point. Expert nutritional advice has returned beef to its proper role in a balanced diet and this story needs to be told in the proper forums like classrooms -- the natural setting for young people coming to understand food and diet.

Ignoring or underestimating the initiative of plant based proteins would be a colossal mistake. The companies working on these initiatives are backed by some of the country's wealthiest individuals and most prominent scientists. Countering the initiative must be done intelligently and strategically by recognizing the target [consumers and especially young ones] and their concerns about production, nutrition, and the environment.

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