The largest beef producing state in the USA, Texas, has moved to ban the use of misleading terminology on labels and in the marketing of plant-based or lab-grown proteins.
The proposed Meat and Imitation Food Act (TX) codifies meat as being “derived solely from carcases of cows, chickens or other livestock and no lab-grown, cell cultured, insect or plant-based food product” and is designed to stop consumers being misled by the words “meat”, “beef”, “chicken” or “pork” on these products.
Plant-based or lab-grown “meat” is developed mostly from soy and legume proteins and is a fast growth category within Australian supermarkets and food service outlets.
Australian think tank Food Frontier and Deloitte report that plant-based meat sales increased 48% in June 2020 and manufacturing revenues were up from $35 million to nearly $70 million over the same period driven mostly by the rise of casual veganism or “flexitarian-ism”.
British investment bank Barclays models that plant-based meat substitutes are forecast to hold 10% of the US$1.4 trillion global meat market by 2029 which poses a challenge to both traditional and alternative meat industries as to how their brands can be marketed to consumers.
Currently, Australian laws do not expressly prohibit the use of the word “meat” to describe non-animal derived proteins although there are requirements under the Food Standards Code and Australian Consumer Law for products to be labelled truthfully and representative of their contents.
“There is a place for both plant-based and genuine meat and dairy products in Australia’s agriculture system, but we need to set the divide so that one is not unfairly trading on the reputation of the other”, Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud MP, told representatives of plant-based meat, dairy, egg, manufacturing, and retail sectors late last year. “More accurate and truthful labelling of plant-based products will prevent consumers from being misled and protect against the misuse of the meat and dairy sectors’ reputations.”
Clear and honest food labelling laws are important for the consumer’s perception of Australian primary produce and Thynne + Macartney will continue to advocate for fairness in these laws.