Bunge Ltd, one the world’s most prominent grain merchants, recently revealed the 1.6% stake it had bought in the fast-rising fake-meat startup Past Meat.
The play looked good after the stock surged over 250% since the fake meat burger and sausage maker’s initial public offering in May. Certainly, Beyond Meat’s market capitalization of $9.9 billion is now bigger than Bunge’s, a 201-year-old agency with 31,000 employees.
No wonder many top agricultural companies want to seize their cut of the booming market for plant-based faux meat. Bunge’s investment is one instance of how grain traders and seed firms try to capitalize on a market that now accounts for 5% of U.S. meat purchases – a share expected to triple over a decade, according to investment administration agency Bernstein. That growth would reflect the fast ramp-up of milk substitutes constructed from crops such as almonds.
ADM and privately-held grain merchant Cargill are selling processed peas and soy proteins to consumer meals companies and restaurants that use them to make vegetable burgers, sausages, fish substitutes, and different faux-meat products. They’re further moving into the business by way of acquisitions and partnerships or by leveraging their labs and research capabilities to help make new plant-based food products for clients including food and beverage makers.
Seed company Corteva – which split in June after a merger of Dow Chemical and Dupont – is studying potential vegetable seed offerings.
Demand for meat alternatives has risen as consumers add plant-based protein to their diets for health reasons and out of care for animal welfare and environmental damage from livestock farming.