The future

of protein.

And what this could mean for the future of New Zealand meat and dairy.

It’s estimated there will be 10 billion people on this planet in 30 years. If we don’t change the way we eat, meat production will need to increase. New Zealand supplies the world with meat and dairy (animal-based protein), with the export revenue heavily contributing to the small country’s economy.

 

But recent changes in societal values point a spotlight at traditional animal agriculture, revealing the negative impacts of the practice. Many consumers have begun to look for alternative protein sources.  Alternative proteins have the potential to greatly disrupt the global meat industry and New Zealand’s role in this.

Approaching twenty fifty.

In 30 years the world's population is estimated to reach 10 billion people.

To feed 10 billion people, global meat production would need to double to 470 million tonnes.

NEW ZEALAND RELIES HEAVILY ON AGRICULTURE

The New Zealand economy depends on trade with other countries.

Meat and dairy contribute over half of export earnings.

If the global agricultural industry was ever disrupted, New Zealand's economy would be in trouble.

In New Zealand, there are 2 cows to every person.

The impact of agriculture.

As animal agriculture intensifies, concerns grow around the impact of the practice on the climate, environment, our health, and animal welfare.

"This is my generation's nuclear-free moment, and I am determined that we tackle it head on" 

Jacinda Ardern, NZ Prime Minister on the issue of climate change

CLIMATE

Livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

But the majority of New Zealanders live in cities and have little or no contact with agriculture. 

This rural-urban divide impacts national decisions when the nation’s bills are paid for by farmers.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Land cleared for animal pasture allows the soil less protection from rain than trees, increasing the risk of erosion.

Fertilizers are applied to supplement nutrients naturally found in soil.

 

Increasing fertilizer use, soil erosion, and livestock numbers pollute streams creating serious downstream environmental impacts

Livestock use 38% of global habitable land.

New Zealand farming hopes to become antibiotic free (except in emergency cases) by 2030

New Zealand Veterinary Association 

OUR HEALTH

Antibiotics are widely used in agriculture (to stop animals getting sick or to speed up growth) but there are concerns genes for antibiotic resistance are developing due to their overuse.

The United Nations has elevated this health issue to crisis level, calling antibiotic resistance a “fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production, and development.”

ANIMAL WELFARE

Animal proteins are under a cultural spotlight but globally people have different definitions of animal welfare.

 

In general, there are differences in how people define animal welfare.

The animal welfare movement has the potential for global social change but it is in different stages of development across countries. 

58% of US consumers surveyed are increasingly concerned with the treatment of animals raised for food.

 
 
 
 

Changing the narrative.

Millennial’s social values concerning climate, environment, health, and animal welfare are reshaping the food industry.

Millennial influencers are creating a new cultural narrative around meat.

"Shifting from animal meat to the plant-based meats developed by Beyond Meat is one of the most powerful measures someone can take to reduce their impact on our climate."  - Leonardo DiCaprio

"With vegan versions of fur, leather, and wool, Cyrus proves skipping the authentic materials doesn't mean sacrificing style. Miley's forward-looking outfits are a peek at how we’ll all be dressing in the near future." - Vogue

“I choose to love, to be conscious of what I'm supporting and I refuse to support the companies that buy from those companies killing and torturing animals."

- Lewis Hamilton

“The more we educate ourselves on where our food comes from (and what it took to get to our plates) the more thoughtful and considerate we should be in the choices we make.” - Kate Mara

The language of meat has changed: consumers don’t think about meat, they think about protein.

Plant-based meat isn’t just for vegetarians anymore as more consumers are aware of the impacts of meat consumption.

Welcoming the alternatives.

The alternative protein conversation is gaining momentum and becoming mass market. The global meat industry (valued anywhere between $90 billion and $741 billion) is prime for disruption.

The alternative protein market is tiny... but it has also only just begun.

 

Image credit: Impossible Burger

Cultured meat. 

Currently, all alternative proteins are plant-based but cultured meat (meat grown in a laboratory) could be mass produced within 5 to 10 years. 

Although cultured meat technology is in development, researchers hypothesise it could lead to monumental changes in meat production.

“Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”  - Winston Churchill, 1931

New Zealand beef has a relatively low carbon footprint compared with other countries, but it cannot compete with the small environmental footprint of cultured meat.​

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The protein opportunity.

Alternative proteins are an opportunity for New Zealand agriculture to diversify.

New Zealand has more than 10 times the land area currently used for horticulture, that is suitable for growing plant protein crops.

Investment from New Zealand government is essential to support farmers adjusting to the changing farming landscape.

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