Big Ag wants a cut of booming fake-meat market

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Bunge Ltd, one the world's biggest grain traders, recently disclosed the 1.6per cent stake it had purchased in the fast-growing fake-meat startup ...

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/CHICAGO: Bunge Ltd, one the world's biggest grain traders, recently disclosed the 1.6per cent stake it had purchased in the fast-growing fake-meat startup Beyond Meat.

ADM and privately-held grain trader Cargill are selling processed peas and soy proteins to consumer food companies and restaurants that use them to make vegetable burgers, sausages, fish substitutes and other faux-meat products. They are also getting into the business through acquisitions and corporate partnerships or by leveraging their labs and research capabilities to help make new plant-based products for clients including food and beverage makers.

The big agricultural firms are in part playing defense. Grain traders supply the world's livestock farms with animal feed - a business that would suffer if fake meat sales rise at the expense of real meat. Seed companies such as Bayer AG sell to farmers who grow the corn and soybeans that are now sold mostly to feed livestock.

Cargill's customers have been clamoring for pea or soy protein products, including alternative meats, said Laurie Koenig, who leads a Cargill unit developing such items.Like ADM and Cargill, Bunge is now looking to supply ingredients to startups and large companies involved in the imitation-meat trend, Bunge CEO Greg Heckman said in an interview.

ADM is building a pea protein plant in North Dakota, while France's Roquette and Verdient Foods, backed by Hollywood director James Cameron, are building plants in Manitoba and Saskatchewan respectively.

 

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