Beef Buzz News
Meat Scientist Brad Morgan Unphased by Rise of Fake Meat, Says It's No Competition for Real Thing
Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:00:49 CDT
As awareness of alternative meat production grows in prominence, Dr. Brad Morgan of the Performance Food Group, informally asked his company’s sales staff if they have been approached by their food service customers about these products that as of late have been highly publicized. Indeed, they have been, but only from a point of curiosity. The former Oklahoma State University meat scientist recently spoke about the rise of plant and animal cell-based protein products during Kansas State University’s recent Cattlemen’s Day Conference, offering his perspective on the way in which this new segment is evolving and the potential for encroachment it has in the traditional meat market, which fears falling victim to a similar situation the dairy industry found itself in with the advent of products mimicking milk for example.
Listen to Morgan's full commentary on the subject of alternative meat products on today's Beef Buzz.
According to Morgan, some restaurants are starting to offer such items on their menus. For instance, the failed McLean Deluxe burger from McDonald’s, a non-fat burger patty first introduced in 1991. Most of the products seen today, like the McLean Deluxe, come in frozen ready to cook form. But, Morgan views this as less than threatening to the role in which conventionally raised meat plays currently, remarking that most patrons of these establishments go there to order a traditional burger, not a substitute.
While he believes most consumers will prefer traditional meats over imitation, he also believes there will be a market for these products as they continue to develop - a niche market anyway. Like the case with turkey bacon, there are people that will buy these products but he insists it will only be a relatively small segment of the consumer base. Again, while Morgan views this as largely a non-event, he argues what is important is that consumers fully understand what they are buying. Which should be the case as per the recently announced agreement between the US Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration. USDA has ensured that its oversight of the labeling of these products will include prominent visuals that clearly denote their plant or lab-based origins. In addition, several states including Oklahoma are currently working to legally define what is and is not considered meat and what products can be sold commercially under that term. Despite the anxiety that seems to be building, Morgan attempted to reassure stakeholders.
“Don’t get too nervous about this. Right now, one out of ten people may consider purchasing one of these types of items. I think that number would even go down when you start talking about the price associated with them at this point. The other thing is, this is all being done in a lab. It’s not in a large production system. They’re still a long way to get there,” he said. “I think we have another 10-15 years before they would even come close to being put into commercial production. We just have to be proactive as an industry and I think we have been.”
Listen to Morgan’s full commentary on the subject of alternative meat products with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, on today’s Beef Buzz - brought to you by the American Angus Association. America’s breed.
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