The Future of Plant-Based Meat: ‘Adoption will take decades but macro fundamentals won’t change’
History teaches us that it is always a combination of factors that drive transitions, and that the steeper portion of growth within the S curve of adoption comes with generational shifts. It is the same for plant-based meats and foods.
SONALIE FIGUEIRAS: Beyond Meat’s nosedive, lukewarm growth, mediocre products? We unpack the plant-based meat industry with the CEO of global alt meat startup TiNDLE. Just a little over two years old, vegan chicken maker TiNDLE is often held up as one of the poster children for plant-based meat and it’s small wonder why.
The company is available in just under ten countries, including nationally across the United States, has raised over $130 million in funding and has attracted heavyweight talents from Rachel Konrad to Andrew Zimmern. Last week, it announced new U.S. headquarters & R&D center in Chicago.
But where does TiNDLE fit in when it comes to the plant-based meat sector as a whole? As the industry faces looming headwinds including supply chain disruptions, skyrocketing inflation, lukewarm interest from US consumers and overcrowded shelves, Green Queen’s Sonalie Figueiras talks to TiNDLE co-founder and CEO Andre Menezes about the future of plant-based meat…
Sonalie Figueiras: Recent data suggests that despite all efforts, so far plant-based as a category is firmly under 2% of the meat/protein retail market. Do you think this can change? What are brands doing wrong and what can they do better?
Andre Menezes: At Next Gen, we have always stressed how this is a paradigm shift that will not happen immediately – but adoption will take decades. Our job as a player within this industry of changing the way we produce food is to try to compress that adoption curve and accelerate the transition to the highest level possible.
There are countless parallels to other industries in how we are becoming less reliant on animal agriculture for the production of food. We have seen it in the way we mechanized manufacturing, on how we ditched horse-based transportation, and other examples in the disruption of old technologies in energy and communications. None of those transitions were quick or frictionless, just as we’re seeing in the current transition between internal combustion engine cars and electric vehicles.
On that, history teaches us that it is always a combination of factors that drive the transitions, and that the steeper portion of growth within the S curve of adoption comes with generational shifts. It is the same for plant-based meats and foods. We need, as an industry, to stop thinking that one isolated factor (be it a magic molecule, price, infrastructure, technology, or policies) will drive the change individually.
It is the combination of important factors that will dictate both the speed of and viability of growth – which, not coincidentally – also explains why 70% of Norway’s car sales are EVs, why China is the biggest market for EVs with countless exciting local players, why the UK has led the industrial revolution, and why smartphones took off.
In the plant-based sector, a challenge we’re facing is when products are mediocre and don’t deliver on what consumers are looking for. These types of products that don’t match consumer needs end up making the category move backwards. SOURCE…