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Economic Perspective: Potential Impact Of Meat Substitutes

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at substitutes for meat. Mike,  for a long time scientists have talked about developing synthetic meat. That is, meat not from animals, but from plants and vegetables. Promoters argue the substitute meat would be healthier and ultimately cheaper to produce. Where do we stand today on this “new meat”?


“It’s still a work in progress. It’s developing. It is expanding. In fact, consumption of substitute meat is growing twice as fast as consumption of regular meat. Developers are working very hard to make the flavor, the texture and the price of this substitute meat very similar to regular meat.”

“A variety of plants are being used: lentils, beans and legumes. Now if this becomes very marketable, and if we see substitute meat make big inroads in meat consumption, this could have impact on North Carolina, both positive and negative.”

“In terms of negative it would have big impact it would affect our big meat industries like hogs and poultry. We could see some pullback there. But on the other hand, if vegetables are used to make the substitute meat that could be a boon, big plus, for our vegetable industry in the state.”

“But if we shrink the market for our conventional meat that’s going mean all kinds of changes, I think social changes, not just among producers, but I think it’ll say something about consumers, how there’s going to be a change in attitude about what really constitutes meat.”

Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in
the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who
teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.