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Major investors back meat alternatives

Richard Branson believes ‘clean and plant-based meat will become the norm’ in the future.

The entrepreneur, along with a number of other savvy investors, backed Memphis Meats – which uses animal cells to produce clean meats – with funding last year. And there are a host of other companies producing meat and dairy alternatives, including Silicon Valley’s Impossible Foods, which wowed leaders at the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos with its Impossible Burger.

“In 30 years it is unlikely animals will need to be killed for food anymore,” Richard blogged this week. “With that in mind, I am a proud investor in Memphis Meats, a startup trying to change the way meat gets to our plates. They are developing a way to produce real meat from animal cells – that still tastes great. This way, there will be no need to feed, breed and slaughter animals.”

And the FAIRR investment group – a body whose members boast $4.1 trillion in assets, released a report this month urging industry stakeholders to make “a strategic plan, with dedicated budget, to develop or procure alternative protein products that mimic the functional properties and taste profile of animal proteins, and research on how to ‘nudge’ consumer behaviour.” And with a voice that speaks with $4.1 trillion of influence, decision-makers are likely to listen.

And the benefits of shifting to sustainable food systems are financial and environmental.

“The meat and dairy substitutes industry is predicted to be worth $40 billion by 2020,” Branson blogged. He also points to the fact that new methods, like those pioneered by Memphis Meats, “use a lot less water and land and produce up to 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally-produced meat.”

Writing for us in January, Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director, The Good Food Institute, was pretty clear in his advice to innovators: make money and save the world. He said “the meat industry itself now sees the writing on the wall” and cited decisions by meat producers – including Tyson Foods and Cargill – to invest in this unstoppable trend towards a market dominated by plant-based foods.

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