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Amanda Little

The Plant-Based Meat Movement Is Down But Not Out

US investors have cooled on the sector for now, but that will inevitably swing back as prices fall and studies prove the superiority of animal alternatives for the climate and human health.

Temporary setback.

Temporary setback.

Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP

The world’s largest beef producer joined a chorus of Cassandras this week signaling the end of alternative meats. Meat giant JBS SA killed its Planterra business in the US and shut down a 190,000 square-foot Colorado facility producing plant-based products. Yet the closure was gravely shortsighted. It reflects a crisis of confidence at a time when investors should be strengthening, rather than curbing, their funding in this sector.

There’s no question that plant-based product sales in the US have been flagging. The category’s meteoric growth in 2020 flattened in 2021 and, since last September, a key portion of its retail sales has dropped more than 10%. Its reputation has also been badly bruised by the stock performance of Beyond Meat Inc., which plunged almost 80% from its peak after a spectacular initial public offering in 2020. Still, it’s a mistake for investors to write off the value and potential of the sector as a whole, which will be a keystone among climate solutions going forward.