Fresh Take: Hope For The Formula Shortage, McDonald’s Leaves Russia, And Soaring Chicken Prices

Food & Drink

Through the early weeks of the pandemic, fake meat sales grew some 200% at retail, and that hype helped drive the sector to secure more than $2 billion in funding. A lot of that came from venture capitalists, who continued to pour money into alternative protein startups in 2021, as funding neared a record $4 billion, according to PitchBook.

But last year, actual sales of fake meat stagnated. And, after Beyond Meat’s latest earnings flop, some analysts are worried about the long-term potential for commercial adoption of these tech-enabled foods.

“This market is going to take time to develop on its own,” John Baumgartner, managing director and senior consumer equity research analyst at Mizuho Americas, told me. “You can’t force feed it to people.”

The food industry will need to make necessary changes to how production happens at scale as climate change intensifies, and there’s still not enough time to waste on the wrong adaptions. But a mismatch is emerging. Is too much funding backing too many similar ideas with not enough potential? Technified, plant-based foods only scratch the surface of the kinds of solutions that are being experimented with on farms and beyond to feed an intensifying planet.

— Chloe Sorvino, Staff Writer

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What’s Fresh

Chicken Billionaire Bemoans Higher Prices At Every Link In The Supply Chain, From Farm To Table. Joseph Grendys, CEO of Koch Foods, says he sees rising costs in ‘every part of our business.’ By yours truly.

Biden Invokes Defense Production Act To Require Manufacture Of Baby Formula Ingredients. President Joe Biden is turning to the Defense Production Act to ease the national baby formula shortage, reports Zachary Snowdon Smith.

Abbott Strikes Deal With FDA To Reopen Baby Formula Plant At Center Of National Shortage. It could take more than 10 weeks for Abbott Laboratories’ baby formula to reappear on store shelves, Zachary Snowdon Smith reports.

McDonald’s Says It’s Exiting Russia After More Than 30 Years. The situation following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine means “continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” according to the company, as reports Robert Hart.

Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture as a staff writer on the enterprise team at Forbes. Her nearly eight years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha, and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in Northern France. Her book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat , will publish in December 2022 with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.

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