You’ve heard about peak oil and peak emissions, but what about peak meat? A recent report suggests Europe and North America will have had their fill of meat by 2025, after which demand will start to fall, all driven by the unstoppable rise – and great taste – of plant-based alternatives.
The report – by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Blue Horizon Corporation – shares good news about our changing appetites and great news about the planet. Meat products are going to fall ever quicker from favour as more people get into plant-based protein: more than a tenth (11 per cent) of the global protein market will be plant-based by 2035, rising to almost a quarter (22 per cent), if technology and regulation keep pace.
The peak meat estimate is based on reaching that 22 per cent share, and will require policymakers to introduce measures such as carbon pricing – taxing products according to how much carbon dioxide is involved in their production – and supporting farmers to make the switch from animal agriculture to alternative proteins. Look out for announcements of such planet-saving measures at or in the run-up to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November.
Nine out of 10 of the world’s most popular dishes that rely on animal products will have realistic non-animal alternatives by 2035, according to the report – by which time its authors estimate the market for those alternatives will have hit £210 billion a year – while price-wise, plant-based protein will be on a par with meat by 2023.
Decker Walker, the head of agribusiness at BCG, underlined that the developed world is on the threshold of a change that has “significant… global consequences”, and one that many anticipated would take place decades hence.“There’s all this talk that alternative proteins are futuristic, and that many people don’t resonate with the concept of artificial meat,” he said. “But what most people don’t realise is that we’re actually already at a point where [traditional] meat consumption is going to be declining for the first time in history.”