Feb 1st 2019

EU policymakers should regulate and fund “meat analogues”, says Chatham House

Rosie Wardle
Rosie Wardle
Investment Associate
  • Report from Influential think tank Chatham House says EU policymakers must take swift and transparent decisions on the regulation, labelling, and marketing of lab-grown meat and plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.
  • CPT Capital welcomes the findings of the report, which could help boost the alternative protein sector in Europe.

Experts at think tank Chatham House have called on EU leaders to back the expansion of more lab-grown meat and plant-based meat and dairy alternatives to enable Europe to help tackle climate change.

The new report, entitled ‘Meat Analogues: Considerations for the EU’ argues that consensus is building across the scientific, environmental and public health communities that a radical shift away from excessive meat-eating patterns is urgently needed to tackle the unsustainability of the livestock sector, and that what it calls“meat analogues” i.e. plant-based ‘meat’ and cultured meat have an important part to play in achieving this shift.

The report highlights that excessive meat consumption is linked to health issues such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Also that the production of meat is responsible for a raft of dangerous environmental impacts, driving substantial greenhouse gas emissions, unsustainable water use, and deforestation. Research shows the livestock industry accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 29% of agricultural freshwater use, and an estimated 40% of global arable land.

No wonder, then, that plant-based meat and lab-grown meat is poised to experience massive growth in the next couple of years. Companies are realising that the market for both types of meat isn’t just vegans or vegetarians, it’s meat-eaters, too. Consumers are primed to expect these new products; now it’s all about getting to market.

The report finds that the global market for plant-based meat is estimated to be worth $4.63 billion. That’s roughly equivalent to 0.5% of the worldwide market for meat, currently valued at $1 trillion. However, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 5.8% and 6.8% by 2023. (Lab-grown meat is not yet on the market.)

EU policies to accelerate pace of growth

To quicken the pace of growth, Chatham House is calling on EU policymakers to accelerate decisions on the regulation, labelling, and marketing of meat analogues, so companies can fuel consumer demand for alternative options as soon as possible. It says clear and consistent product packaging and nutritional labels are particularly vital to fostering consumer trust, given the sharp fall in confidence following the 2013 horsemeat scandal.

At the same time, Chatham House is advising EU policymakers to invest public capital in the research, development, and commercialisation of meat analogues. Large up-front investments in infrastructure to support the scale-up of new products or technologies are often difficult to secure from low-risk investors, particularly for small- and medium-scale producers. This kind of investment will also mitigate against the risk that promising innovations are acquired and developed by actors outside the EU.

Recent years have signalled a step-change in public awareness of the health and environmental risks associated with the overconsumption of meat, alongside a growing trend towards ‘flexitarian’ diets. A thriving alternative proteins sector has the potential to galvanize the EU’s success in meeting its goals on climate change, while reducing antibiotic use and improving public health. To fully reap the rewards, policymakers must respond to the challenges and opportunities it presents now.

Rosie Wardle
Rosie Wardle
Investment Associate