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Competing with alternative protein sources

Photo courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

First there was real beef. Then there were plant-based proteins.

Now, we await the arrival of cell-cultured “meat.”

How can real beef compete with these comparable products?

Impossible™ Foods and Beyond Meat® launched plant-based proteins, the Impossible™ Whopper® and the Beyond Burger®. Another product, mimicking beef, will be released later this year. But the cell-cultured meat, or meat grown in a laboratory setting, faces criticism from the beef industry.

The National Beef Producers Association (NCBA) says the product should not be labelled as “beef” and/or “meat.” Amanda Radke, a South Dakota cattle rancher, spoke to this at One19, Alltech’s Idea Conference.

“The big discussion right now is, ‘How will those products be regulated and overseen? What is the nomenclature?,’ The beef industry has been a little bit on the defensive in trying to counteract the misinformation these companies are perpetuating about traditional beef production,” Radke said.

Radke states, “I’m all for consumer choice.” However, she also believes in product transparency.

“I think nomenclature matters – Transparency to give consumers an educated choice, so they know what they’re buying. As a beef producer, it’s frustrating because while these companies are disparaging traditionally raised beef, they’re hijacking our nomenclature that has been bought and paid for by the Beef Checkoff, an investment that producers have made in order to promote beef and make our product a beloved protein choice,” Radke said.

Radke believes real beef can compete with these alternative “meat” products. She still encourages producers to continue promotion of their product.

“The fact of the matter is advocacy needs to become part of our tool kit. The consumer’s in the driver seat,” Radke said. “They’re going to vote with their dollars and determine how we do business in the future. So if we want to see commonsense regulations and retailer demands, we need to be a part of those conversations. That means being vulnerable, putting yourself out there, being willing to take criticism, but also knowing there are a lot of people who genuinely want to know where their food comes from.”