RELEASE: Alternative meats are here to stay — and so is beef

Berkeley, Calif. — Today, the Breakthrough Institute’s Saloni Shah, Food and Agriculture Analyst, and Dan Blaustein-Rejto, Director of Food and Agriculture, revisit a conclusion made in their recent analysis that the projected growth of the alternative meat industry will have fairly minimal impacts on the cattle industry. In the new analysis — co-authored with agricultural economists Jayson Lusk and Glynn Tonsor — the expected 10% reduction in prices of plant-based beef will not have a significant impact on the cattle industry’s carbon footprint or the number of cattle slaughtered.

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Saloni Shah and Dan Blaustein-Rejto are available for comment

With that estimated reduction in price for plant-based beef — as expect over the next year — the following will most likely occur:

  • Plant-based beef consumption would increase by 23%;

  • US cattle production would fall by only 0.15% or by about 49,000 head of cattle;

  • International cattle production would fall by about 34,000 head of cattle heads;

  • US cattle producer economic welfare, or the prosperity of all cattle producers in the US, would fall by about $300 million, which is equivalent to 0.6% of average cattle revenue in recent years; and

  • US consumer welfare, or the benefits to all US consumers, would increase by about $513 million, which is equivalent to 0.45% of average expenditures on beef in recent years

Figure 1. Change in U.S. beef trade and U.S. production under 10% price decline in plant-based meat alternatives

Advancements and growth in the alternative meat industry are encouraging, but their projected impacts on the environment and economy are fairly limited. Proving that, advancements in “...the environmental sustainability of meat cannot solely rely on alternative meat — efforts and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution, land-use change, and other impacts from livestock production are also needed,” conclude Shah and Blaustein-Rejto.