20CENT MEETS Will Schafer from Beyond Meat
This week in 20/CENT Meets, I am pleased to share with you my conversation with Will Schafer, Vice President of Global Marketing for Beyond Meat. We recently met at a trade show and we got to have a chat about his views on the future of meat consumption and more particularly plant-based meats, and of course the future developments of Beyond Meat.
Could you tell your views on what the future holds for the meat and plant-based meats market in the near future?
“Well what we notice is that meat consumption is going up globally. Population growth keeps increasing. By 2050, the world population should reach 20 billion people and meat consumption should therefore also continue to rise. We don’t have enough Earth to sustain the needs for everybody and need to take action. So there is definitely a need for plant-based meats.“
And where is Beyond Meat fitting in this story?
“Our point is to create sustainable version of meat, without all the bad stuff linked to it; and we try to do it as naturally as possible. Our research and development department is composed of researchers who check out the components of meat and try to recreate a finished product. In a way, in nature, animals take certain building blocks to create meat. What we thought is the following: why can’t we take the same building blocks to do like the animals and produce meat. Also we make it difficult for us, as we want to work with natural products, we don’t want to work with soy, gluten, GMO’s or other ingredients out of favor with consumers, the finished product we seek needs to be easy to digest and we want it to be delicious.”
Taste, is that your key selling point?
“Indeed, our number one promise is that our products are going to taste delicious. Taste is the barrier to enter the market and convince consumers. Our products are tasty. Every one has had once a bad experience with a bad veggie burger or another plant-based meat. And we need to convince people of our deliciousness. We need to break that barrier so that mainstream consumers go for our products. As mentioned, we simply try to achieve tasty products that consumers are comfortable with.
In a way you might say we aspire to be the Tesla of plant-based meat. Tesla says they make a car with all the good stuff and not the bad stuff (e.g. pollution, etc). We are kind o f doing the same. We strive to remove the ‘bad’, like cholesterol, green house gases, animal suffering and more, and also remove the sense of sacrifice. People shouldn’t feel they sacrifice when they take a plant-based meat. Saying stop eating meat is not the right approach. We want to appeal to consumers with a desire idea.”
Next to burgers, you develop other ideas I presume?
“Yes, we are. We just launched our range of sausages. Also, mince meat is coming in Europe in early 2020, and it’s called Beyond Beef. We are also working on a bacon replacement. Finally there is steak. We are still developing it, we call it a moonshot but we believe it’s possible.”
I never seem to find someone working on fish replacement. Did that ever cross your mind?
“That’s a good question. We actually noticed that people in order to eat less meat, do tend to move to fish first as a replacement. In the future we might try to develop such a product but it is not the highest demand. Right now we believe that our first focus should be on meat as it is the market on which we can have the bigger impact for the market and the planet. “
Do you think plant-based meats could replace meat totally and we can have a meat free consumption in the future?
“We hope so. Here is a way to look at it: If traditional meat has an inherent downside and can be totally replaced with delicious plant-based meat that is more efficient and cheaper to produce and is better for animal welfare, health, etc., then why continue with the old way of producing meat?
Will SchaferBeyond MeatMeatViandePlant BasedVégétal