By 2030: Cell-Cultured Proteins
Cell-cultured meat is real meat or dairy but without the animal. It is grown or fermented in vats or produced in other ways without needing animals to die.
(There is controversy around this claim: early production used serum from slaughtered calves. But new procedures are being developed without any animal deaths.)
Rethink X also predicted there would be 50 percent fewer cows in American agriculture by 2030. It predicted once cows disappeared in America, the rest of the world—and the other animal industries, such as pork and chicken—would follow.
The cause? Not ethics, but technology.
Or rather, what it calls ‘a protein disruption driven by economics’. In its new ‘cell-cultured’ technologies producing meat and dairy products in labs, would produce ‘proteins five times cheaper by 2030 … than existing animal proteins.”
This report was theoretical. Was it simply wishful thinking?
Competing on costs
Well, two new studies published earlier this month think it is going to happen by 2030. These studies are based on actual data from existing protein producers.
This research, from the Good Food Institute, suggests ‘cultivated meat could compete on costs and have a lower environmental footprint compared to conventional meat production in under 10 years’.
The figures are astounding. The life cycle assessment and techno-economic assessment suggest when compared with beef from cows, cultivated meat will produce 92 percent less global warming gases and 93 percent less air pollution, using 95 percent less land. If renewable energy is used, then 78 percent less water is needed too.
So plant-based burger price parity by 2023. Then cell-cultured burgers by 2030.
By 2035: the end of animal-products?
Rethink X argued that not only will we achieve price parity, but that by 2035 cell-based and plant-based alternatives will be 10 times cheaper than defunct animal-derived products.
Motivated by price, they suggest the average family will save more than $1,200 in food costs.
But also, these slaughterless proteins will be superior too: “More nutritious, healthier, better tasting, and more convenient, with almost unimaginable variety… modern food products will be higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace.”
The research commissioned by the Good Food Institute seems to suggest we’re moving in this direction.
From an ethical point of view, as plant-based and slaughter-free foods become the norm, people will be free to wonder how we ever used to kill so many animals, at such horrific cost.
A long way to go
We’re not there yet. But as individual consumers, buying plant-based alternatives will drive up demand and drive down the cost, meaning regular meat-eaters will pick them up too.
According to YouGov, nearly a quarter of diehard meat-eaters say they enjoy meat-alternatives. If we make it easier for them on price, that figure will only increase.
We can work together as citizens to put collective pressure on the government. Not least to take up the recommendations in their own Behavioral Insights Team’s report!
Actions such as incentivizing product innovation, a carbon tax, raising awareness, and creating real value for farmers for their food, will all help reshape our ‘cheap food paradigm’. Then we’ll reach price parity sooner.
So keep buying those sausage, burger, and chicken alternatives. Every time you do, you tell the companies there’s a market.
Whether it’s 2023 or 2030, price parity will arrive. Then, plant-based meats will be cheaper. When that happens, with all their inherent costs and environmental impacts, animal-derived and slaughter-based meats won’t be able to compete.
We’re more than consumers of course. But this really is one way we can help shape the future.