Europe is currently the largest market for meat substitutes, accounting for 39% of their global turnover. Every year it grows by 8% and by 2020 will reach 4.2 billion euros.
In the last decade, experts have noted a significant increase in the popularity of diets with low meat content and without meat, and companies that produce alternative vegetable protein are now serious players in the global protein market.
It is imperative to help EU farmers adapt to this changing demand.
According to Euromonitor, in 2017, plant substitutes represented 12% of the global milk market, and by 2022, dairy alternatives are projected to increase to a total of 19 billion euros.
According to Rabobank, in the next five years, alternative proteins can make up one-third of the total protein demand in the EU.
According to Forbes, in one of the largest US retail chains in California, vegetarian hamburgers were sold alongside beef patties and had no less demand.
A manufacturer of alternative eggs based on mung beans, claims that their product “in the first week of retail sales was ahead of natural raw eggs.”
The world’s largest fast food chains, McDonald’s, KFC, Quick, and Subway, are taking part in the project of replacement animal protein with the vegetable one. They are launching or testing alternative versions of their popular meat products.
As the demand for vegetable milk and meat grows, the main burden of these changes will be assumed by the livestock sector. Today it is one of the most state-subsidized areas of agribusiness.
But this is a bad decision from the point of view of sustainable development and the ethics of using taxpayers’ funds.
The funds spent on subsidizing the production and accumulation of stocks of meat and dairy products should be better directed towards helping farmers who want to switch from industrial livestock farming to crop production, which is becoming increasingly important.
Livestock production is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions and plays a significant role in numerous environmental crises, including the degradation of land, water and air, and loss of biodiversity.
It also poses a threat to human health in the form of antimicrobial resistance and the spread of diseases caused by food.
Many chronic diseases in the EU can be prevented with plantbased diets.
Chickens and pigs are the most intensively grown animals and are almost completely dependent on feed, often imported from Latin America, that contributes to massive deforestation and loss of biodiversity outside the EU borders.
At the same time, climate warming and frequent droughts are a real threat to livestock farmers in many countries.
Alexandra Clark, Humane Society International (Europe) Consultant