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A new report predicts the Armaggedon for the US meat industry

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In 10 to 15 years, the alternative protein sector will dominate the market and reshape the landscape for the food industry, according to a study released by independent think thank RethinkX.

Posted on Sep 20 ,05:52

A new report predicts the Armaggedon for the US meat industry

"By 2030, demand for cow products will have fallen by 70%. Before we reach this point, the US cattle industry will be effectively bankrupt. By 2035, demand for cow products will have shrunk by 80% to 90%. Other livestock markets such as chicken, pig, and fish will follow a similar trajectory," said a recent report released by independent think thank RethinkX

The decline predicted by the analysts looks like the Armaggedon of the US meat industry. 

Researchers believe that rapid advances in precision biology and an entirely new model of production called Food-as-Software will create a modern food disruption model with profound implications not just for the industrial agriculture industry, but for the wider economy, society, and the environment.

Key findings in the report are painting a dark image for the current food industry, dominated still by a classic model of farming. From a economic point of view, analysts are expecting that the cost of modern foods and other precision fermentation products to be at least 50% and as much as 80% lower than the animal products they replace and by that revenues of the US beef and dairy industry and their suppliers will decline by at least 50% by 2030, and by nearly 90% by 2035.

Ground beef products are to be hit fast and quick, with a decline in a market volume of 70% in 10 years, followed by the steak market by 30%. 

"The current industrialized, animal-agriculture system will be replaced with a Food-as-Software model, where foods are engineered by scientists at a molecular level and uploaded to databases that can be accessed by food designers anywhere in the world. This will result in a far more distributed, localized, stable, and resilient food-production system. Modern foods will be cheaper and superior to animal-derived foods. The cost of modern food products will be half that of animal products and they will be superior in every functional attribute", predicts the report. Qualities of new food will consist of: more nutritious, tastier, and more convenient with much greater variety.  Nutritional benefits could have a profound impact on health, both in a reduction in foodborne illness and in conditions such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes saving a total amount of $1.7 trillion in medical care costs. Also, farmland values will collapse by 40%-80%.

For the consumer, the access to higher quality, more nutritious, cheaper and accessible food will save more than $1,200 a year in food costs per family. "This will keep an additional $100bn a year in Americans’ pockets by 2030", according to analysts involved in this research. Benefits for the environment will also be substantial:

 

 -   By 2035, 60% of the land currently used for livestock and feed production will be freed for other uses. These 485 million acres equate to 13 times the size of Iowa.

 

  -  If all this freed land were dedicated to reforestation, all current sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions could be fully offset by 2035.

 

 -   US greenhouse gas emissions from cattle will drop by 60% by 2030, on course to nearly 80% by 2035. Even when modern food production is included, net emissions from the sector as a whole will decline by 45% by 2030, on course to 65% by 2035.

That will lead to a quick shift in geopolitics as "decentralized food production becomes less constrained by geographic and climatic conditions than traditional livestock farming and agriculture. Major exporters of animal products will lose geopolitical leverage over countries that are currently dependent upon imports of these products".

Substitutes of meat are already in the global market, with initiatives embraced even by large players in the meat industry: Tyson Foods, Smithfield or Marfrig, just to mention a few companies. Along with this trend in creating plant-based alternatives for animal protein, lab-grown meat is also gaining field as an idea, even if no product has been launched yet on an industrial scale.

 

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