The Rise of Faux Meat

The supply chain for traditional meat is buckling, and plant-based alternatives from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are filling the void.

The distribution infrastructure that normally gets plenty of beef, pork, and chicken to American grocery stores has begun to buckle as meatpacking facilities become Covid-19 hotspots and shutter, leaving farmers with nowhere to send their animals. Those livestock are consequently growing too big to process, so farmers across the Midwest are having to gas or shoot tens of thousands of animals and throw them away, all while millions of Americans are going hungry.

Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat skip the livestock entirely: Their factories convert plant material into a striking imitation of real meat. Other companies are experimenting with growing animal cells in a lab to make ground meat products like chorizo. University researchers are even experimenting with how to give that mushy meat structure to one day grow steaks in the lab. So given their simplified supply chains, might such alternative proteins rocket into widespread consumption during the pandemic, supplanting traditional meat?

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