Slate Money: Food: Alternative Meat
Hello and welcome to sleep money food and welcome Tad friend. You are here to talk to us about plant based meets as anyone who has been following the beyond meat share price knows. This is something which a lot of people are a lot about an a making a lot of money on. Who are you and how do you know about this? A staff writer at the New Yorker and I know Baticaloa spent about six months writing about the world of plant-based meats and focusing particularly on the CEO and founder impossible foods Pat Brown is a former Stanford. University biochemist started the company with the idea that if successful in ridgely making plant based Burger. And they could grow at that eventually. They were really really fast. They could get rid of all animal food products across the globe by twenty thirty five. It's a huge ambition. Which we we're GonNa talk about Pat Brown's ambitions. We're GONNA talk about the beyond meat share price. We're going to talk about. Gruff Fed vessels green fed beef. We're going to talk a little bit about your friend in mind. Mr Dan Bubba. And we're GONNA talk about how to cook an impossible. Burger and how it differs. Perhaps from cooking and regular Vega all that coming up on slate money food so tad. How often do you eat fake meat? That's one of those questions. That immediately begs the question of whether the question is correct. The people who make what they call plant based meat would object strenuously today. It's fake me but putting that aside for the moment Actually when I started reporting about the world applying base meets in celebrates meets aid it never and now I find myself eating it a lot just because every time I eat a cow based Burger I can't help but think of clouds of methane going up into the atmosphere which is not very savory prospect just the other weekend my daughter who's just declared that she's a vegetarian demanded in impossible burgers cooking boasts tau and impossible burgers at the same time in the oven. Had Sort of interesting weird thing of trying to do to eat them side by side as a taste test and which had done in a while and unfortunately the cowboys are still tastes a little bit better and also the Basel Burger My wife is the chef of the family. I'm pretty good with bridge but like it's very easy to go from having it be looked still sort of paint and then suddenly it's like crispy. It's very hard to get exactly medium rare at least in my attempts but it's a long winded answer but I'm not. I'm not eating many burgers at all these days and then when I do I'm sort of thinking. Gee It should probably be a plant based on. Would you say the the main use case for plant-based meets is as a substitute right? Now it is beyond meats and impossible foods started in North America. Which are they're they're starting there and then branching out into the world even though they know that with America only consumes about twelve percent of the world's meet Place to start and in North America sixty percent of beef is ground so it makes sense to start with the Burger That's the thing where you're going to. If you can convince consumers to change you try to lead in to a lot of the market right away so this is something. I didn't know Being someone who has never actually cooked an impossible burger at home. I mean I like you. Maybe even less than you're not much of a better person to begin with and when I do eat them. It's only lamb burgers. You'll saying that impossible burgers are similar to beefburgers in the done. This increases over the time that you cook it and so you can have like a less. Well done normal. Well-done impossible beg and that affects the taste rather than just the crispiness the whole idea. One Pat Brown. The CEO and founder impossible started the company. He was thinking like in order. We are not convincing people to give up meat through arguments about animal welfare. Or you've been about the planet we have to do by basically making a better product way to make a better product is way to get there. You have to make a similar product. That's a taste like meat in. It has to cook like me. It recapitulates the whole sort of savory sensation of eating meat and their onepointoh product was not that great. I mean it was fine. But they're two point. Oh if you do it right and a metric quite done it right and it's helps if you're a chef kind of experimenting a lot but the idea that actually that you will release uses it will tend to rise it will. Carmeli is The greatest ribs saver. You Mommy as you cook whereas if you just take a traditional Vegetarian Burger that you would find in the freezer case. Ten years ago it basically just kind of heats up and sort of Wiltz. I mean it doesn't doesn't chemically transform. It just sort of warmed up as you heated but this actually chemically transforms in the main thing is a molecule called team but the impossible burger. That is the thing that's in our bloodstream. That makes blood red And also his in cows bloodstreams and that is it sort of they think of as the catalyst for a lot of these sort of meaty chemical transformations a. We should jump in hits. Note that when people talk about that beggars being bloody. That's not actually blood that read stuff that comes out of a beggar. It's not it's actually a multi find in blood. I'm but in this case happens to be made from Genetically Modified Yeast Fifty Thousand Gallon tanks The for sort of weirdly pink colored sort of like a dairy queen type of soft serve. Almost Uses traditionally white. But because him is pink turn to uncover is very important in foods and in beggars. The other question I have for you just because it's a genuine question I haven't cooked. Bubba is the my my general technique of cooking Doug as a throw a bunch of ground laminate skillet and then it cooks in its own fat. As it warms the FAT MELTS. Net creates the the caramelized -ation because you wind up basically frying dilan. Boga in lamb fat do impossible burgers and Beyond Vegas. Did they have fat in sort of leaks out and then cook them they? They have to recreate it. Because it's not animal fat but they they both have Able to sort of coconut oil to marble eyes and that sort of marble texture round beef has also just create a sense. It is a fat but a different kind of fat. So there's not enough of a chemist to exactly no doubt explain the seven temples steps along the way but my general sense is that yes. It's a SIMILAC arm of that hand. To the extent you find it pleasing is just about your taste and also your sense of moral outrage and I think the higher the moral outrage the lower the bar taste and your new offensive outrages is quasi Maryland. You're not caring about the cows themselves so much is your caring about the environment and the carbon emissions. Well morality can only apply to cows and not welfare entire plant. That's very interesting. Maybe the only thing about you're about like the the big morality. I like that question. A little better I actually grew up on a dairy farm. So you care about cows but I would say my sense of of more. Outrage was heightened during the reporting of the peace in a way I mean I almost always start peace without having much of an idea of where I'm GonNA end up because I think if you know that you end up finding your way there are no matter what and I didn't really think much of Was Interesting topic but I found as reported that my sense of the injury to the planet. That was totally unaware. From the agricultural sector in particular from growing animals for meat was so much greater than I had thought remedies in so many directions that even setting aside the question of animal welfare and whether we should be using animals for me the consequences of using them for me to be bad for all of us using the any one of your daughter is that like was that the a primary reason why she became a vegetarian. Now he's been agitating for a while and I think finally she was just like Through down in like I'm a vegetarian And I was sort of secretly thinking will do for you. That's great that you're determine your life on my wife. Who's a chef in who runs a food website? was outraged and the thing was This is separate from the topic. Maybe related is that after a few weeks of being a vegetarian She started to miss some of the things that we liked about eating meat. Many of us. So he's now what she calls a big Joe Pesci -Tarian People Bacon and fish foods says there she can get the tastes in the proteins that she was missing Without feeling what? She's eating kind of Yucky steak. I do believe that the every vegetarian should have let one product they can cheat with in Spain. Of course it's hem on why I think it's hard to just totally a cold. Turkey itself as a phrase suggests as Turkey's about The interesting thing is about the to me one of the things about so many of the people who started either plant based companies or cell based companies in which you Subways different approach to the same problem. Where you basically trying to recapitulate the growth of meat in a lab starting with an animal cell and then multiplying it billions of times to create a burger or chicken nugget or steak eventually innocent. Very embryonic industry people started. A lot of these companies are vegans and they've they've realized that actually the way like Pat Brown Vegan Ethan Brown and started beyond burgers beyond meets is a Vegan. Josh Chetrit started just which makes the kind of man as in egg substitutes is trying to get into cell based meat is a Vegan and they all realize that people are not receptive to people meaning like the vast swath of population is not receptive to that message. Because it's again about Animal Welfare. They are more receptive to ideas of taste. Just sort of saving the planet that seems to be a better way to go in terms of lowering people's anxieties in hackles. About what reading. We had done Bubba on this show and he was very very adamant that he is by no means a vegetarian but that he very much believes in having scented food. And you know just having occasional proteins from here and there as and when is this kind of support in a supporting role and I kind of get the same message of different flavor? I guess from the kind of people. You're talking to in the in the alternative meat industry. That's basically saying that. The effect on the planet is much bigger if a lot of people eat less meat than if minority of people eat NOMI I think most of the sort of thoughtful responsible people are simply trying to kind of essentially to take a a phrase from the code. Industry flattened the curve and try to prevent China and India and very fast growing countries that have traditionally eating less meat from adopting. That is. It's what they call the twenty fifty problem that by the year. Twenty fifty plant which now has seven point. Eight billion people will have ten billion people if growth continues to grow in a strong four hundred times in China since nineteen sixty one continues to grow. At that rate. Basically there will be no forest left. There will be greenhouse gases everywhere. So they're trying to responsibly. Sort of tapered off the interesting thing about Pat Brown started. Impossible is he is like no tapering. We are going to replace all animal food fish chicken pork Turkey. Everything by twenty thirty five and everyone even his own board members. Even people with his company in most devoted disciples. Know when I spoke to You. Thanks. That's that's feasible. It's fifteen years away right now. Plant based clued is still way less than one percent of the world's intake and pat actually told me that he still thinks he actually thinks he can do a before twenty thirty five he just thought it sounded so crazy. Had to sort of push it back a couple of years. What what's the future in China if you say? China is the big one with this massively growing middle-class with much more disposable income to be buying meat and presumably on some level. It's a look easy to show people off. Wei The involves less meeting in the future is to try and get them to reverse habits of many decades of eating meat every day. Exactly that's that's exactly right and that's why These companies are all trying to as quickly as possible leap from America to places like China and India In China there's an interesting complicated set of factors that go into the calculus Worried about some of them in the peace. One factor is at famously. You know China has often hijacked intellectual property. So there's a concern about you. Take your process in there. You have a you have a relationship with a company where you're coming together and suddenly they just take it from you and then go from there on make. That's actually fine with Pat Brown. He's like I don't care almost like if we make a profit there. I just wanted to get the idea. Introduce their It's not so fine was his shareholders. So there's a little bit of attention there One of major arguments really interesting given what's happening now he's trying to. He's trying to argue to the central government. This is actually a national security issue for you. You import a lot of your meat. You'RE DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN SUPPLY. And if you can make plenty meet in that satisfies your nations hunger for made no longer depending on that also is another risk points which he had enough you whether or not. He's making good China but he certainly made to me was that so many pandemics star potential started from avian and swine flu's from meat markets. Like the one that led to the corner virus if you could you know late if he's right and if he's successful in somehow miraculously managed to rid the world of Meat Markets for twenty thirty five? There wouldn't be this. You know zoonotic transmission chain from bats monkeys through domestic meat animals to us. I feel like on some level if we are told a vegetarian. Diet will prevent a global pandemic lake. This one having just lived through as we're living through this one. That is an incredibly powerful argument to to put two people at least right now before they forget how bad it is right now. It seems like I haven't actually seen anyone make it. I'm I'm defer to PAT. Who if he chose to make it could make it much better than me but I totally agree with you that it would be a powerful one running for a second two point? You're making that Dan Barber earlier. You know again. It's a friend of mine and we agreed to talk around a central issue of around plant-based meets which it is yes. He's totally you know. He's he's obviously Mr farm-to-table. He's totally about locally. Sourced plants enemy the thing that I found that he he probably would disagree with this but that was interesting and surprising to me. Was that one naturally thinks of grass fed beef somehow more organic in lovely in good in some vague glow away and it turns out that actually because grass-fed beef is not finished for the last four to six months of his life. I'm grain feedlots. It grows much more slowly and therefore produces much more methane and also grasses harder to digest in there for produce more methane than greenest so the grain. Which is it's yes in American factory system. Yes it's unsavory certain sense Yes it sort of mechanized an awful in house or not as happy but it actually is better for the planet in a weird way then Assuming that the total number of cows you raising stays constant which I think is probably not a fair assumption. You can't move from grain. Beef raising grass-fed beef racing and keep on raising the same number of cows that you have to raise more cows. Yeah I'm one of the things that you just less capacity that you you know if you if you converted all of. Us beef industry to grass fed. The total capacity of the industry would go down a lot and the price would go up while not clear on how you're using the word capacity the total number of cows you would need to. Biz amount of meat would call up or else you'd have to have them eating more food for longer. I guess what I'm saying. That you total amount of like Shia acreage. The number that you would need would be so enormous to keep the covering volumes The there will be no physical way to produce that much level. Yes right now. Five percent or so of cows in North America our grass fed so be multiple net by twenty essentially in In terms of the two hundred percent of grass fed and that would mean a lot more munching grass And a lot more So and there are theories that counter. This and there's a you know sort of the idea Genitive grazing that. If you raise very carefully and you have the cattle marching in as a kind of very carefully confined herden treading down. The grass in certain ways generates scientists on that seems at best uncertain but there are definitely people who believe in the idea of a virtuous cycle of the cattle that tramp down the grass in the manure that restores the grass and so forth. It's all one happy circle of life in a kind of Disney way but weirdly seems like the actual way for the media industry. If you believe in the media industry to try to tamp down the curve would beat apply American scientific methods Rodley across the globe in factory farms. And if we don't want that then we go back to the client base meets the only comeback. Something you're saying about like China's stealing Ip. The cloud base meets the really catching the popular imagination. Right now beyond me. Impossible beggars made by private for profit companies with patents and Chad prices if the future is plum based meets is the future all also by necessity. One where you know. A large chunk of the protein we ingest is is basically a patented corporate for profit thing where we're sending money to a big global company. Yes yes yes in the sense that the way America figured out how to build a better mousetrap tends to be privately rather than the government building straps and the government has shown no interest whatsoever in building a better burger better for the planet. I'm in fact quite the opposite. You could argue that. The power of the media industry and has lobbyists has had significant influence. Let's put it that way on the. Usda so the the laws that have been passed unless few years off the topic perhaps but in states that prevent Impossible and beyond from even describing their product. Burger is a nomenclature laws of this sort of legislative thinking trying convince customers that these things are not even quote unquote pitcher terrain burgers. You can't call in Arkansas. You can't call impossible a vegetarian. Burger would've have to call it. I don't even know something else like Probably fake meat. Or you know something. That sort of sounds unappetizing. But getting back to your earlier question Pat Brown because he is he's a missionary and Zealot Evangelist his plan is within a few years and again his shareholders might hem. And how about this? But his plan is to not in China at least at the beginning but eventually across the globe including China Eve. Away the formula to to all these different Meat but also pork sausage and chicken as he rolls those out to other companies and say go have added improve this tweak and as soon as you start to make more than a million dollars from your company you know give us some royalties on it but the ideas you thinking. That's that's the way we can grow really fast and we won't own the entire market. We won't be this. Big Hated Mega Corp will be the friendly nurturing. You know Almost QUASI-GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTION. That's trying to build up companies around the globe. Are you hopeful on that front? You think this this vision might come to post. Well it's one of those classic card head things where I would like him to be correct in how he sees the world working and in the success of his products. I think it would be good for all of us and I also in some kind of medicine. I think it's great when a scientist using an actual science can develop products. That seems to improve things and I think that has sort of ramified effect on our belief in science. I would say my head sort of thinks it's G it's still you're still ten started in two thousand eleven and it took them a while to get a product to market in two thousand sixteen Five years after getting their product to market all plant based foods inmates. You're still less than one percent of the market and he's done the calculation on a Napkin for me More committing electric her but not much which is a they have to grow double production every year to get there to take over the entire meat supply for the next fifteen years which is growing more than thirty thousand. Fold which is huge and possible. So I kind of think the only way to do that. Probably by outsourcing to other companies in having there be part of that growth and I also think he is. He doesn't really care about money doesn't care about world domination. He really wants this idea to work for the good of all so I believe is hardest totally in the right place. And then the question is whether they can execute on division on some level by it's becoming the sort of dominant operating system for Post. Meet well you become a little bit like Microsoft. You just sort of install your windows software on every computer that sold and take some small slice of the price of that computer and then you can make money that way if you if you kind of instill the impossible operating system in a bunch of food factories around the planet and they will pay you a little license for that software even though it's not really software That could be a huge business. Known some level. Shareholders would love to have a smaller slice or something global than one hundred percent of something which isn't really getting traction out yet. I think he can make that argument. And and he will make that argument ends up. It's going to be not just good for the world but it's also good for the bottom line. The tricky thing is to get back to the China point is if they if and when they get in there in scale. I was talking to the vice president in charge of kind of heading up news saying we won't give them formula but will do the same thing that coca-cola does will send in the buckets you know and then maybe they can reengineer it. But we won't even be sending in the buckets with the most. Recent update upgrade will be sending in like the version from a couple of years back because they are dislike a little still worried that for purely capitalist reasons at the moment as growing as they keep adding to raise money they just raise another five hundred million dollars if now raised one point three billion dollars. There's no need to pay back their investors. They can't just throw it open and say well. Here's a formula. Glad final question Bound the beyond meat share price. Which is one of these stocks. A bit late. Zoom Tesla Virgin Galactic just kind of goes parabolic. His crazy volatile and people made a lot of money on it and presumably load of money on it to do you understand the sort of volatility that. I mean I think what the market is telling us is that no one has a clue whether these things are going to be successful or not in. The range of outcomes is so enormous that you can tweak. Your assumption is just a little bit in the value of the company. Whipsawed all over the place. It's exactly what you said. I think it's the plant based meets him. North America alone sales grew eighteen percent just in grocery stores. An impossible joined beyond in grocery stores only in September so this year it'll be allowed more particularly because people getting their food from grocery stores now and not from restaurants right at the moment as much across America so you can see that growth and you can thank you know you can look back directory and think wow and then you could also look at the other thing. Which is you look at me. In major still traditionally still ninety nine point five percent of the global market and they're very entrenched those people. You don't know what they're doing and it eventually just come along and kind of do some crappy version of it which they started to do what he started to making stalled incognito his way to worst all time name for what is Incognito. I need to the Incognito. Is a meat substitute made by And then you know like and clearly they I think Nestle has made the amazing murder and be incredible. Burger may begin his name South Trying to confuse people about what the impossible. What the incredible with the amazing good for the broader. It is often sort of these water. Yes in in a general sense. Except if you're disappointed by the knockoffs and a lot of the knockoffs are weird kind of like mixtures of chicken and pea protein or disorder kind of sectarian mashups that satisfy no one just dissatisfy everyone to your earlier original question about beyond. Burger of your investing in your investing in the story. You're investing in the beliefs. Can eventually this whole way of engaging with animals and plants is going to change well storyteller? I suppose you've you've done your part for the beyond meat chevrolets. Although it was not the intent of your piece I bought a lot break before I got on the phone with you. And then okay you can sell it three days after this goes comes out greg flip series of complex trades. They can pay one right after the PODCAST TED friend. Thank you so much for coming on. There's been a pleasure to have you. Thanks so much for having me.