Until not very long ago, “fake meat” would summon images, and perhaps smells and tastes, of highly unconvincing patties composed primarily of soy products and good intentions. No more: the meteoric rise of Beyond Meat, which has soared to prominence on the back of lifelike (well, persuasive) meat substitutes, is setting the stage for large-scale consumer adoption of vegetarian products that have it all except the cholesterol. And that, in turn, is spurring major interest from agribusiness giants, who are investing in Beyond Meat and other faux meat startups, according to Reuters — some looking to hedge their bets against a potential competitor, others seeking a stake in a big potential buyer of their grain and vegetable products.
- Reuters notes that Bunge Ltd., a Canada-based grain giant, recently purchased a 1.6% stake in Beyond Meat. The move comes after Beyond Meat’s stock rose over 250% following its initial public offering in May, giving it a market cap of almost $10 billion.
- Looking ahead, vegetable-based “fake meat” (the term of art is “faux”) already makes up 5% of all meat purchases, and is predicted to triple its share within a decade.
- Meanwhile other agribiz giants like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill are sniffing around the fake meat trend with their own R&D efforts, as well as selling beans and grains to the existing players. Other companies already making big moves in the space include Impossible Foods, Tyson Foods, and Maple Leaf Foods. Cargill just made a $75 million investment in Puris, a pea protein producer, coming on top of its previous $25 million investment.
- Reuters points out that while soy-based products like tofu have long dominated the fake meat space, companies are tapping alternative protein sources from all kinds of legumes and seeds, including black beans, peas, lentils, canola, beets and sunflower.