Home » News » World » Demand for Meat Substitutes Spikes in US as Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Slaughterhouses to Shut Shops
2-MIN READ

Demand for Meat Substitutes Spikes in US as Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Slaughterhouses to Shut Shops

News18.com

Last Updated: April 27, 2020, 08:44 IST

Representative Image

Representative Image

Plant-based protein is generated with less dependence on labour, making it less prone to staffing scarcity, as opposed to red meat production.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a sudden increase in plant-based substitutes in the US and has led to many slaughterhouses shutting shops.

The sale of plant-based meat substitutes in the US climbed 200 per cent last week, in comparison to the same time last year, Financial Times reported, citing findings of consumer data group Nielsen. Plant-based meat only constitutes a small chunk of the protein market in the US, but it has been expanding in recent years. Many believe that the pandemic has given a thrust to this movement.

The plant-based protein is generated with less dependence on labour, making it less prone to staffing scarcity, as opposed to red meat which is relatively labour intensive.

“With plant-based meat, supply chain factors are much easier to manipulate,” said Bruce Friedrich at the Good Food Institute told FT.

Notably, there has been a steep decline in the US meat production, with many facilities, either slowing or temporarily stopping their production owing to the coronavirus outbreak. As of Monday, 32 per cent of US pork generation capacity will be offline, Steve Meyer, an economist at consultancy Kerns & Associates, was quoted as saying by FT. Bill Lapp, president of consultancy Advanced Economic Solutions, noted that the production has nosedived by 14 per cent.

The largest meat producer of the US, Tyson Foods, decided to shut down two of its biggest pork plants in the states of Indiana and Iowa. In Washington, its beef plant was closed when workers were sent to get tested. Besides this, two US pork packers shut down plant plants on Friday, taking the total to seven, Meyer told FT.

The hold-up has now resulted in the price of pork, meant for retailers skyrocketing, even as that of live pigs has fallen steeply, with sales to slaughterhouses dipping considerably, the report added.

The Maschhoffs, an Illinois-based pig-farming enterprise, told FT that consignment had gone down by 20 per cent. “The meat supply is there. It’s just that the logistics of the food chain have gotten a little convoluted,” said the co-owner Julie Maschhoff.

In contrast, Beyond Meat's shares shot up by over 40 per cent last week, after coffee-giant Starbucks said that it was going to employ the company's plant-based protein in items in its Chinese outlets.

A few plant-based protein companies have said that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to fore the connection between public health and animal meat consumption, providing to consumers a ground to opt for a plant-based diet.