A global dietary context which remains worrying
In the last 50 years, global food consumption has quadrupled, and, in addition, the global population has consumed on average twice as much meat as the previous generation. The overconsumption and overproduction of meat have led to an unbalanced and harmful relationship between the food industry and the environment, for example, soil impoverishment, intensive use of water, exploitation of non-human animals and climate change.
Furthermore, animals from intensive farming are stuffed with antibiotics, particularly in developing countries where the intensive farming system is booming (China, India, Vietnam, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt).
Antibiotics and antimicrobials are widely used for disease prevention in food animals. However, studies have shown that animals are becoming more and more resistant to these drugs which makes it difficult to know which bacteria will end up in meats offered for sale. (Data based on 900 studies conducted between 2000 and 2018 by Thomas Van Boeckel, a Belgian epidemiologist).
Because of this alarming situation, it has become necessary to think about innovative technologies to shift to a more sustainable food production that does not involve suffering and slaughtering of animals. That is where cultivated and plant-based meats come into the picture.*
Obvious benefits of cultivated and plant-based meats
*Thanks to innovative technology, plant- based meat products mimic the taste, texture and taste experience of conventional meat as its process occurs from multiple ingredients, such as different sources of vegetable proteins.
*Cultivated meat production consists of a system of cellular agriculture in which meat is produced by processes of cell growth and structuring. In the latter one, the origin of the meat is the animal's cell removed employing a biopsy, but without the need to slaughter the animal to produce the food.
Some projections indicate that alternative meats will reach a large portion of the total meat production in the world in the next two decades. Environmental analysis points to substantial advantages for alternative meats over conventional meats.
Challenges and issues of cultivated and plant-based meats development
This research aims to study the social impact that the entry of cultivated and plant-based meats may have in Brazil. The country was chosen because it has an important role in the global livestock value chain; it is one of the major meat producers and therefore it is expected to be impacted by the entry of alternative meats in the chain
The studies have been officially validated and published in academic and scientific journals.
What are the results of studies?
- The first study about Brazil listed nine possible benefits, five possible social challenges and seven recommendations.
- The nine possible benefits:
- Opportunities for agricultural producers
- New job opportunities in stages of the chain
- Human capital development
- Wage increases in certain chain stages
- Working conditions improvement
- New businesses opportunities
- Greater access to food
- Higher degree of healthiness of alt-protein products
- Improvement in non-human animals' ethical conditions.
- The five possible social challenges:
- Reduction in demand for conventional producers
- Losses of jobs in the animal-raising and slaughter stages of the chain
- Lack of education among human resources may be a barrier to entering the new chain
- High prices and low-income may restrict the access of people to alt-protein
- Consumer resistance due to a lack of information
- The 7 recommendations:
- Several public policies may be created based on a national plan that considers the main potential and needs of the country.
- From this national plan, local or regional plans could consider the particularities of each location to contribute to the national plan.
- The creation of innovation hubs could also help to strengthen the ecosystem, mainly by creating environments for discussions and co-creation among the main regional players involved in the alternative meat ecosystem.
- Universities and research institutes may also receive incentives, mainly incentives for research and innovation in partnership with the industry.
- Human resources may be trained to work in the different phases of the chain in transition
- Farmers, especially those running small farms, may be supported to work in the new chain as well
- Wide-ranging educational campaigns, including governmental initiatives could help clarify the consumer's main doubts concerning the consumption of alternative meats
The study concludes that the high engagement of stakeholders, such as government, industry and consumers, will be essential for realizing the benefits listed. For the authors, knowing the social impact of alternative proteins may be fundamental to better guide the transition process.
2. The second report highlights the potential impact of the meat production system transition on jobs and compares opinions in Brazil, the United States and Europe.
The results of this study show the potential of plant-based and cultivated meat production for the creation of new and high-skilled jobs.
Comparing countries, the results show greater optimism among Brazilian experts about the potential of plant-based and cultivated meat production to create jobs; European respondents were the least optimistic.
The study unveils the need for the involvement of different actors, such as universities, research institutes, non-governmental organizations and governments, with the development of policies, actions and strategies which may support job creation and improvement in skills, bringing along major benefits in terms of health and safety for workers.
The social impacts of a transition from conventional to cultivated and plant-based meats: Evidence from Brazil https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919222001099
The expected impact of cultivated and plant-based meats on jobs: the views of experts from Brazil, the United States and Europe https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-022-01316-z
Download the complete studies:
- The expected social impact of cultivated and plant-based meats in Brazil. Analysis of social opportunities and challenges for the country.
- The expected impact of the entry of cultivated and plant-based meats on jobs in Brazil, the United State and Europe.