The Impact of The COVID-19 Pandemic On the Plant-Based Meat Industry

The Business Wire estimates the global market value of plant based meat alternatives to be approximately 3.56 billion in 2020. The projected compounded annual rate of growth stands at 17% between 2019 and 2021. For the last three years, the number of vegans in the U.S. skyrocketed by 600%, fueling the industry’s growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on both meat-based and meatless protein industries. Industry players producing plant based pork and other vegan-friendly meat products continue to record new business highs amidst the global pandemic. Here are some of the major impacts recorded within the industry.

Shifting Consumer Preferences Towards Vegan Meat Substitutes

There is a growing global concern on the consumption of meat products and the transfer of zoonotic diseases. The association of COVID-19 to animal sources is pushing meat lovers away from processed animal proteins. The fear among the population is driving the uptake of plant based pork and other meat substitutes across the nation.

A McKinsey survey in May 2020 shows that 60% of meat consumers are more likely to seek healthier options even after COVID-19. The widespread popular shift towards a meatless future continues to fuel the growth in the plant based meat industry.

Discovery of Healthier Alternatives

Scientists and researchers continue to implicate meat-based products to current lifestyle diseases plaguing the population. The International Agency for Research on Cancer states that processed meat may result in cancers due to its carcinogenic effects. High red meat consumption may also increase the risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.

In a July report, the CDC says people with underlying conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus are at an increased risk of severe illness from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Increased concern for health and wellness is pushing Americans to healthier meat alternatives.

Disruption of Global Supply Chains

The COVID-19 has completely upended traditional meat chains, resulting in extreme meat shortages. Experts warned of meat shortages due to the widespread shutdown of meat processing factories in March and April. The closure drove sales up for plant based pork and other meat alternatives to over 262% in the nine weeks ending on May 2, 2020.

Meat processing plants have become virus hotspots, raising concerns among consumers and staff alike. The food and Environment Reporting Network estimates over 36000 meat processing staff and farmworkers have been infected. The surge continues to push consumers to try out vegan alternatives that replaced meat products on the shelves.

Demand for Animal Protection Rights

The association of COVID-19 to animals reignited the decades-long fight for animal welfare. Scrutiny on meat-based giants has revealed plans for widespread culling amidst the pandemic. The pork industry experts estimate over 10 million pigs could undergo culling by September through gassing, shooting, or blunt force trauma.

Consumers perturbed by how the meat products arrive on their plates are now turning towards vegan diets. More Americans are opting for plant based pork instead of traditional bacon and sausages. Adopting vegan and vegetarian meals cements their stand against animal cruelty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption in the animal-meat and plant-based industries. Overhaul of global supply chains, change in consumer behavior, and increased concerns about health and animal protection continue to paint a positive outlook for meatless industry players.

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