The food industry is, obviously, massive and growing. Now, the game is about finding meat alternatives that taste good and SE Asia is leading the charge.
Many meat eaters will not react well when someone mentions a meat alternative. They are confronted by embedded visions of the tofu of 20 years ago, which was, let’s face it, not great. But now, as well as the majority of people wanting to live better and healthier lives, the food industry is transforming itself into a lean, agile industry that produces healthy, tasty food at affordable prices.
There are many pressures at work on the future of food. One strong one is the pressure being brought to bear on the meat producing industry because of the amount of methane cows produce (which, when put in context, is not the big deal some might think). Add to that the ‘cruelty’ issue and meat farmers go from being people that feed us to people who are cruel, heartless and are trying to poison the planet.
Companies across the world are looking for alternatives because that is now the direction of travel. KFC is piloting chicken nuggets that are made of soy, pea protein and wheat in three Chinese cities – Shanghai, Shenzen and Guangzhou. This is according to research from Wunderman Thompson.
The whole food industry is involved, from Nestle and Starbucks to start ups that have invented molecules that taste like meat.
Fish, too, is in the cross hairs. Shiok, for instance, is investing heavily in making shrimp in factories rather than destroying valuable mangrove swamps and is researching how to create crab and lobster at a cellular level.
What needs to happen at the same pace as the research and inventions is education. And one of the biggest issues is that food choices are never black and white. Whilst one set of people may be tagged as meat eaters that does not mean that they sit down to a huge steak every evening. They may have a steak at the weekend and eat noodle salad with shaved pork – or something equally light – during the week.
Ultimately the transformation will be about balance and taste. If something tastes delicious you will eat it and ignore the fact that, instead of chicken, you are eating pea protein and mushrooms.
And, like the autonomous car, not everyone will want pea protein, they will want that steak. Which is good because the people who want the steak will keep the meat farmers in business but at a level where the planet may yet survive.
Ah, good. Time for lunch.