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.