Farmers Hurry to Grow More Peas as Demand for Plant-Based Meat Soars

Soy and wheat have long been the foundation of many plant-based meats, but the humble pea is now competing for the spotlight, thanks to companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which use peas as a key ingredient.
Innovations in plant-based products have allowed vegan companies to extend their reach and attract new sets of consumers—even meat eaters are excited to try their game-changing products. The fantastic success of Beyond Meat highlights this growth. The first publicly traded plant-based meat company, Beyond Meat has seen shares shoot up about 500 percent since it started trading in May.
The trend is expected to increase, as more companies, investors, and influential people enter the plant-based market. In 2017 Oscar-winner James Cameron and his family founded Saskatchewan-based company Verdient Foods, “created to address the current and future global sustainable plant-based protein food demand. And France-based nutrition company Roquette is building a huge pea-protein plant in Canada that is set to open next year.
North American farmers are now hurrying to plant more peas, with growers in the United States and Canada expected to plant 20 percent more field peas this year, according to government data. Farmers are cutting principal crops like corn, soy, and wheat by about 3 percent, which makes the increase in peas even more impressive.
While many stakeholders in the agriculture industry may have mixed feelings about the rise of plant-based eating, they can’t deny it. Even U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue admitted the Impossible Burger tasted “very good when he visited Impossible Foods’ headquarters. Some people in the industry, like Montana farmer Paul Kanning, are ready to embrace the change:
I’m excited about things like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger that are putting pea protein in their burgers. It’s awesome. The demand is going to do nothing but increase, I believe, and you will see production increase in various areas of the U.S.
He’s not wrong. According to a new report from the global consultancy A.T. Kearney, 20 or so years from now, most meat will not be from slaughtered animals. Instead, the report predicts that 60 percent of people will likely be chomping down on plant-based or cell-based meat.
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