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The new makers of plant-based meat. Big meat companies?

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The emergence of meat companies has prompted suspicion among some plant-based activists. For years, big oil companies bought clean-energy startups and essentially shut them down.

DAVID YAFFE-BELLANY: ‘With plant-based burgers, sausages and chicken increasingly popular and available in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores across the United States, a new group of companies has started making meatless meat: the food conglomerates and meat producers that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods originally set out to disrupt. In recent months, major food companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, Hormel and Nestlé have rolled out their own meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.

Once largely the domain of vegans and vegetarians, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets, as consumers look to reduce their meat intake amid concerns about its health effects and contribution to climate change… Now, at supermarkets across the United States, shoppers can find plant-based beef and chicken sold alongside the packaged meat products that generations of Americans have eaten. “There is a growing demand out there,” said John Pauley, the chief commercial officer for Smithfield, one of the largest pork producers in the country. “We’d be foolish not to pay attention”…

Many supporters of meatless alternatives have hailed the new products as a sign that plant-based meat has gained widespread acceptance. “When companies like Tyson and Smithfield launch plant-based meat products, that transforms the plant-based meat sector from niche to mainstream,” said Bruce Friedrich, who runs the Good Food Institute, an organization that advocates plant-based substitutes. “They have massive distribution channels, they have enthusiastic consumer bases and they know what meat needs to do to satisfy consumers.”

But the emergence of these meat companies in the plant-based protein market has also prompted suspicion and unease among some environmental activists, who worry the companies could co-opt the movement by absorbing smaller startups, or simply use plant- based burgers to draw attention away from other environmental misdeeds. “That’s a legitimate concern,” said Glenn Hurowitz, who runs the environmental advocacy organization Mighty Earth. For years, big oil companies bought clean-energy startups and essentially shut them down, he noted’. SOURCE…

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