• by James Lacy
  • January 21 2019
  • food
  • meat


Alternative Products Make Inroads Into the Meat & Poultry Market

Alternative Products Make Inroads Into the Meat & Poultry Market

Suppliers of fresh, frozen, and processed meat and poultry are facing increased competition from producers of meat substitutes. Manufacturers of such products include Beyond Meat, Kellogg Company’s MorningStar Farms, and Impossible Foods. As these companies continue to improve the taste and texture (e.g., ability to sizzle on a grill) of plant-based patties and other meat substitutes, more individuals are experimenting with these products. The increased availability of meat substitutes on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves is also spurring sales.

Many people are switching to a plant-based diet or are otherwise reducing meat consumption for one reason or another: for instance, concerns over saturated fat and cholesterol content of red meat, animal welfare, or the meat industry’s impact on the environment. In September 2018, a report released by researchers commissioned by Beyond Meat at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems concluded that the Beyond Burger generates 90% lower greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% less impact on land use and water scarcity compared to a quarter pound of US-produced beef.

Meat and poultry suppliers are also investing in plant-based product companies to take advantage of the rapid sales growth. For instance, in December 2017, Tyson Foods increased its investment in Beyond Meat to slightly more than the 5% ownership stake established in the previous year. Tyson Foods also invested in a minority stake in Memphis Meats, a startup that produces cultured meat from animal cells, in January 2018.

However, the meat industry raised concerns about meat substitutes regarding the labeling of products that do not contain meat but include meat in the product name. In February 2018, the US Cattlemen’s Association filed a petition requesting the US Department of Agriculture establish strict meat labeling requirements to restrict the use of the terms "beef" and "meat" on the packaging of products not derived from animals because it can cause consumer confusion. Plant-based product producers feel the petition should be denied because it is based on fear of competition and not to protect consumers.

While product labeling is expected to remain a hot topic, consumers looking to reduce or eliminate meat from their diet – or just add some variety – will benefit from an increasing number of options as meat substitutes make inroads.

Want to Learn More?

For in-depth analysis of meat and poultry product trends, see Meat & Poultry Products: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US meat and poultry product shipments in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Shipments of fresh and frozen products are segmented in terms of:

  • beef
  • veal
  • pork
  • lamb and mutton
  • poultry

Shipments of processed products are segmented as follows:

  • meat
  • poultry

To illustrate historical trends, total shipments, the various segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.

For the purposes of this report, “meat” excludes poultry products, and “red meat” refers to muscle meat (e.g., beef, pork, lamb, and veal). The scope of this report encompasses products from slaughtered animals; live animals are not counted in stated shipment figures. Also excluded are byproducts of slaughtering such as animal hides, skins, and pelts; bones removed during the slaughtering process; lard and tallow; and inedible offal. Furthermore, chickens and other animals grown for their meat on a small scale by consumers on their properties for their own consumption are excluded. Re-exports of meat and poultry products are excluded from trade figures.

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About the Author

James Lacy is a Senior Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. His experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.