As Australian interest increases, just how big is the meat-free meat opportunity?
Food & Agriculture
Food & Agriculture
That headline alone might be enough to anger some Stockhead readers. Meat-free meat? What’s next? Water-free water?
But a word of caution before you judge it too quickly: the movement towards more sustainable eating habits is not going anywhere.
And while traditional vegetarian or vegan food presents one option, the world of meatless meat is making rapid advances.
This author recently decided to conduct a little experiment. I invited my sister, a notoriously picky eater who can sniff out something not right with food at 10 paces, over for dinner, saying I would make simple spag bol.
What I didn’t tell her was I was using plant-based mince bought from the local supermarket. She ate every last bite, and then I made the reveal: she was shocked that something made entirely out of not meat tasted so much like the real thing.
So take it from a picky eater: meatless meat might not be so bad after all, and it might also represent good news for your share portfolio — researchers believe the global meat substitutes market will hit $13.6 billion by 2023.
Just this week, Roots (ASX:ROO), a company known for an innovative crop-growing technology that can both heat or cool crops depending on the environment, announced its support of meatless meat with a deal to use its tech on high-protein beans and peas, sending its shares to a four-month high.
Early trials showed that the company’s root zone temperature optimisation technology had led to a 40 per cent yield increase on beans.
Beans and peas are shaping up as key to the success of plant-based meat, with the legumes containing high levels of leghaemoglobin — which contains heme.
Heme is used by companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to give plant-based meat the look, texture, and feel of meat — just without the environmental drawback.
And early shareholders in Beyond Meat can afford to buy whatever they like now: the company’s share price has tripled since its IPO to list on the New York Stock Exchange in early May.
Shares hit as high as $239.71 in late July, and its market cap is now just shy of $10 billion.
Investment bank JP Morgan raised its target price for BYND shares by 55 per cent to $188 in an analyst note in late July, saying a negative view towards the flourishing stock was a “risky proposition”.
“We believe the company’s growth opportunity, strong management, and near-term ability to post financials that exceed street expectations are reflected in the valuation,” it said.
Back at home there are no Australian players that can match Beyond Meat’s prowess, but awareness of the market opportunity of more sustainable eating habits is growing.
Wide Open Agriculture (ASX:WOA) is another ASX stock with an interest. Late last year, it signed an agreement with “regenerative beef” producer Blackwood Valley Beef.
Blackwood’s farm is certified organic and pastures are grown completely free of any chemical inputs.
Cattle are hand-selected, raised and finished in a grass fed, low-stress natural herd environment on farm, free from any artificial growth hormones and antibiotics.
“Our direct distribution platform offers customers a direct line of sight to regenerative farming practices that strive to reverse climate change by rebuilding soil,” Wide Open managing director Dr Ben Cole says.