No beefing around

Cargill’s entry into the meat alternatives market has a sense of inevitability about it. 

As Elizabeth Gutschenritter, MD of Cargill’s alternative protein team, said, producing plant-based products is the “logical next step to expanding our ability to meet consumer needs and bring new value to this category”.

Late entry won’t be a bar to success. Cargill has the nous, the heft/scale, ingredients and R&D to make this an interesting move going forward.

It also has taken time with preparatory development. With the rapid rise in consumer demand for plant-based protein, Cargill signed an agreement in 2018 with Puris, the largest North American producer of pea protein, and sustainable and label-friendly plant-based foods.

Cargill could hardly contain its excitement with its intention to expand into the emerging pea protein space despite plant protein only representing a small percentage of sales.

Puris is a “game changer in terms of taste and vertical integration in pea protein”, David Henstrom, vice president, Cargill starches, sweeteners and texturisers, said at the time. 

It’s clear that Puris fits in well with Cargill’s vision to meet the growing demand for protein globally and to “help customers deliver label-friendly products without sacrificing taste.” 

Cargill is playing both sides here. Alternative proteins plus conventional meat equals the future of protein.

Brian Sikes, leader of Cargill’s global protein and salt business says its customers are looking to the company for solutions.

Cargill has invested $7 billion globally in animal protein in the last five years while making strategic investments in the alternative protein space.

“We need to keep all protein options on the table,” said Sikes. “Whether you are eating alternative or animal protein, Cargill will be at the centre of the plate.”

There’s no insight into the makeup of the patties or ground meat. All we know is they’re developed through “culinary insight, extensive consumer research and innovation”. It does leave the door ope, however, for bespoke creations for retail and foodservice businesses.

All in all, the move is an important step for Cargill and one financial markets are watching. Investors and entrepreneurs are capitalising on a shift in the way meat is produced. 

As entrepreneurs, investigate this trend and rising industry they will identify the next plant based substitute opportunities of what many are saying might be a $50-plus billion industry.

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