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Peak meat

There is evidence to suggest, according to this recent Bloomberg Green article as well as many other sources, that we may be hitting “peak meat.” That is, the global production of animal proteins appears to be declining. It declined last year in 2019 and that was only the second time since 1961 in which that happened. And this year, the same is projected to happen, which is supposedly unprecedented in modern times.

The big change is that people are eating a lot less beef. In fact, per capita beef production peaked way back in the 1970s and has been slowing declining ever since. The growth over the years has really been coming from chicken. In 1961, 39% of all meat production was beef. As of 2018, that number had declined to 20%. Pork as a percentage of all production has remained more or less consistent. But chicken has basically tripled from 11% to 34%.

From an environmental and climate change standpoint, this is a very good thing. As most of you know, greenhouse gas emissions from the production of beef are vastly higher (about 10x) than for pork and chicken. Chicken is the lowest (see above). At the same time, big bets are being made that this growing love of chicken isn’t enough. In the first 7 months of 2020, over $1.4 billion of venture capital was raised for “faux meat” startups (source). This is already a significant increase compared to 2019.

This money is expecting the future of meat to be plant-based and cell-based.

All charts from Bloomberg Green.

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