Big Bets on Fake Meat

The line between carnivores and vegetarians is getting blurred as scientists continue expanding on meat substitutes. From plant-based burgers that “bleed” to lab-grown meat, more alternatives are appearing on grocery shelves and on menus. The trend was underscored this week by a record-breaking initial public offering (IPO) by plant-based burger producer Beyond Meat.

For Midwestern grain and livestock producers, the prospect of Americans shifting their diets could be a daunting prospect, but so far, adoption by consumers is still limited, with less than 10% of consumers adopting a fully vegetarian or vegan diet.

However, agribusiness giants like Tyson and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), investors like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, and fast food chains like Burger King and Carl’s Jr. are making investments in the products, betting that more consumers will adopt the products as prices drop and quality increases.

For now, most of the focus within agricultural markets is on oversupply and a lack of a trade deal with China, which is keeping grain and meat prices depressed. As of midday Friday, cattle and soybeans were trading at a seven-month low at $1.14 per pound and $8.30 per bushel, respectively.