A recent report from investor group, Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative, predicts an international tax on meat items, similar to the taxes placed on tobacco, carbon and sugar. As governments around the world are looking for ways to reduce emissions, the next step might be taxing meat production due to the significant amount of emissions produced by the industry, according to Bloomberg.
Socially focused investors are pushing meat companies to invest in plant-based protein and to expand their portfolio of products into the vegetarian market. Similar to the taxes placed on tobacco, carbon and sugar, investors hope that this initiative will help better the environment and the health of consumers.
Government officials in Denmark, Germany, China and Sweden have already discussed creating taxes for livestock over the past two years. However, they have encountered a lot of resistance for this initiative.
FAIRR has devised a plan to “future proof” the meat industry. The investor group plans to ask 16 major food companies to diversify their product portfolio by incorporating plant-based protein options. This initiative is currently supported by 57 investors with $2.3 trillion under management.
“Investors are starting to consider this in a similar way to how they have considered climate risk,” said Rosie Wardle, who manages investor engagements at FAIRR.
“It’s kind of accepted now that we need to address livestock production and consumption to meet that 2-degree global warming limit.”
The possible taxed amount for meat manufacturers is likely to be the same as sugar taxes. Just as sugar taxes are in place to help fight obesity in the US, meat taxes are aimed at improving health but most importantly reducing gas emissions that are contributing to global warming.
Plant protein is already gaining popularity in the millennial market, where consumers are well aware of the environmental impact of meat production. About 4 in 10 Canadians and Americans are incorporating plant-based foods into their diets according to Nielson research.
Companies are already acquiring major plant-protein manufacturers because of the growth in sales in that sector. Last fall, Tyson foods acquired a five percent stake in Beyond Meat, a manufacturer of vegan protein products. The major meat manufacturer recently made a follow-up investment in Beyond Meat in order to increase their ownership of the company. Green Century Capital Management recently advised Tyson to look into more plant-based protein products.
“Besides all of the risks that are in the meat industry, where you are talking about huge amounts of emissions and water pollution, this is about diversifying and figuring out what areas can lead to growth,” Marissa LaFave, shareholder advocate at Boston-based Green Century, said in an interview.
The popular “bleeding” vegan burger caught a lot of attention on social media. With supporters like Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Gates, Beyond Meat is taking the plant-protein industry by storm.
It is unlikely that meat taxes will affect North America in the near future with all the resistance this initiative is facing. However, as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of gas emissions from the meat industry, it is likely that plant-protein will increase in popularity. It would be a smart move for meat manufacturers to start investing in other forms of protein.