Giving Compass' Take:

• New partnerships in the food industry are diversifying the nutrients and types of meatless products that are derived from plant-based substances. 

• What is the draw for restaurants and larger establishments to serve a variety of plant-based products?

• Learn why plant-based foods are more than a fad.

The alternative protein market is beefing up. That’s because it’s not just beef anymore.

Imagine: Pigless pork. Chickenless chicken. Eggless eggs. Fishless fishmeal to feed fish. Not to mention fishless fish.

It’s not science fiction — they’re in labs today and on store shelves tomorrow. The past few years have seen major booms in synthetic biology and biotechnology investment, along with changing consumer tastes, which have enabled the creation of more "fake meat" options than ever before.

It’s good timing, too. The changing climate and its impacts are threatening the world’s food supply — temperatures and the frequency and severity of weather events on land and water are increasing, while crop yields are going down. Modern agri-food production systems also contribute to climate change, both directly from livestock emissions and indirectly through deforestation and biodiversity loss.

The potential of lab-grown and plant-based protein as a solution to climate change and world hunger already has generated a great deal of buzz. Much of it has focused on the two first and most successful companies so far: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. The former is currently valued about $2 billion, although it’s still privately held, while the latter’s initial public offering (IPO) far exceeded expectations. At year-end 2019, Beyond Meat’s stock had roughly tripled from its $25 IPO price seven months earlier, for a market cap of nearly $5 billion.

Take Tyson Foods, the biggest meat producer in the United States. It invested early in Beyond Meat — $34 million between 2016 and 2017, giving it a 6.5 percent ownership stake — an early vote of confidence in meat alternatives. It exited after Beyond Meat went public, only to go on to form its own alternative protein lines in-house, producing plant-based chicken nuggets along with burgers and sausages that blend real and alternative meat.

Read the full article about diversity in meatless products by Holly Secon at GreenBiz.