Continued Meat Consumption Will Result in a ‘Financial, Social, and Environmental Crisis’, Says World’s Leading Investors

Continued Meat Consumption Will Result in a 'Financial, Social and Environmental Crisis', Says World's Leading Investors

Kraft Heinz, Nestlé, Unilever, Tesco, and Walmart are just some of the major global food brands a powerful group of investors is urging to move away from animal protein and toward more sustainable plant-based protein sources instead.

The investors, representing more than $1.25 trillion in assets, are calling on 16 major food producers and distributors to source more plant-based proteins on the heels of an Oxford University study that pointed to significant healthcare and climate-change-related savings by reducing current animal agricultural practices. The study cited a $1.5 trillion reduction in these costs by 2050, but only if dependence on meat, eggs, and dairy products is drastically decreased around the world.

The research also noted the immense political pressure companies are now feeling such as Denmark’s red meat tax and the recent announcement by the Chinese government that it aims to reduce its meat consumption by half—a major feat considering the recent rise in meat consumption in China.

“The world’s over reliance on factory farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis,” Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR initiative and chief investment officer at private equity company Coller Capital, said in a statement.

Made up of 40 investors, the group, which, according to Reuters, includes the fund arm of insurer Aviva and several Swedish state pension funds, points to global warming, pollution, and inefficient animal welfare standards as the main reasons companies need to begin changing course.

“Investors want to know if major food companies have a strategy to avoid this protein bubble and to profit from a plant-based protein market set to grow by 8.4 percent annually over the next five years,” Coller said.

The move also comes as the growth of plant-based and “clean” meat industry is outpacing growth of animal-based products. Organic Authority recently reported on Google’s announcement that meat alternatives are the hottest and fastest growing trend in the tech industry.

A Nestlé spokeswoman told Reuters the company did not use much meat, “so our main strategy is not to focus on replacing the meat that we do use as its impact would be minimal. Our main opportunities lie in innovating new products using alternate proteins.”

Other companies the investors targeted include General Mills, Mondelez International, Ahold-Delhaize, The Co-operative Group, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Kroger Company, Marks & Spencer, Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Whole Foods Market.

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Tower of burgers image via Shutterstock

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.