Fake meat isn’t making much of a splash

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One of my longtime friends sent me a video the other day poking fun at a fake meat company and its plummeting stock. The video made me chuckle, but I realized I have seen very little advertising about fake food or plant-based meat lately. I guess there wasn’t the demand out there these companies thought there was, and commercials about cows and their flatulence didn’t drum up the customers they hoped for.

In a recently published report, some company executives claim supply chain issues are causing production slowdowns have contributed to the drop in demand; others say people aren’t eating as healthy as they did a year ago. When COVID hit, many of the companies showed a big upswing in sales, but when you have panic buying, everything is in demand.

These fake meat and plant-based companies are trying so hard to appeal to consumers and paint animal protein as bad for you, and bad for the environment. As it turns out, the nutritional value is similar to that of actual meat in many ways, yet the fake stuff contains bonding agents, tons more sodium and sugar, and substances like titanium dioxide and pyridoxine hydrochloride. Titanium dioxide and pyridoxine hydrochloride aren’t harmful, but I really don’t want to have to do an internet search to see what something is that’s in my food. I need to be more health conscious because I am in that “middle age” bracket, but I just can’t give up that 1 1/2-inch thick steak cooked on an open flame, and I don’t think a lab-created hunk of “meat” would have the same sizzle. 

Plant-based products do have their place, however. I have friends who can not eat red meat, so having something that kind of looks and almost tastes like beef is a welcome change to their diets, and they now have more choices. One friend has an emu burger once in a while as a special treat, if she can find it. It’s also about $14 to $18 a pound, so $8 a pound for a plant-based burger is a much better option for her. Also, soy and almond milk are a blessing for many of those who can’t digest some dairy products. Plant-based products also provide a market for the farmers who grow the plants and nuts used to create the products.

Can farmers and ranchers ever beat the fake meat companies? I don’t think we will never not see these types of products, but fake meat holds about 1 percent of the “meat” market, so it’s very unlikely animal proteins will disappear. They keep trying, however, by attempting to introduce new products, and they try new marketing campaigns in an effort to garner more support. There are plans to launch a new line of plant-based “burger” at the world’s largest fast-food chain in the coming months – the McPlant. I think I will McPass. 

Everyday, I have my own little quite protest against companies that are anti-agriculture; I don’t buy their products. 

There is a fast-food joint near my office that has a great chicken sandwich, but I have chosen not to go there since July 2020 when the chain opted to run its now infamous commercial with a little singing cowboy. I’m sure they don’t miss the few bucks a month I spent there, but I look it as a principle thing. 

There are other things I refuse to buy because of their marketing claims and anti-agriculture comments. Again, it’s the principle of it.

While fake or imitation meat is concerting. I don’t see it being a significant impact on our industry because there’s nothing like the real thing.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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