(KFDX/KJTL) — Brett Crosby’s family has been raising cattle for five generations across Montana and Wyoming, in some of the most beautiful country in America. But cattle ranchers are facing a small rival with a lot of momentum, fake meat, made from plants.
Companies like Beyond Meat are not much of a threat, yet. Revenues are relatively tiny, $240 million this year, compared to a national beef herd worth an estimated $67 billion. But ranchers are taking notice, and they have a few ‘beefs’.
California rancher, Kevin Kester, says: “We are not against science, we are not against people wanting to make new products, we just want to make sure we’re on a level even playing field where everybody goes by the same rules.”
Beef number one – the meat industry is regulated stringently by the USDA, while plant-based products are regulated by the FDA.
But if fake meat burgers cannot be eaten raw and have to be refrigerated just like meat, Kevin Kester of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association thinks they should be regulated like meat.
Kester says, “we want to have the same inspection processes and have the consumer and public confidence that those products are safe.”
Beef number two – claims that plant-based “meat” use a fraction of the land to produce the same amount of protein.
Montana/Wyoming rancher, Brett Crosby says all land is not created equal.
Crosby says “90% of the land that is grazed by cattle has no other productive use.”
Wells reports, “then there’s the beef over whether to call fake meat “meat.” 13 states, including Montana, have passed laws or resolutions saying you can’t call something meat unless it comes off an animal.”
But perhaps the greatest long term concern could be meat made in a lab, actual meat, not plant-based substitutes. Who needs an animal?
Wells: “have you tried a plant-based meat?”
Kester: “I’ve tried them all, yes I have.”
Brett: “are you kidding me? No”
Tried or not, the buzz right now is all about fake meat, and the beef industry does not want to be left in the dust.
And beef isn’t the only meat to see a challenge from plant-based foods.
In August, a KFC restaurant in Atlanta tested out a ‘beyond meat’ fried chicken option on its menu. It sold out in a matter of hours.