Myth: The disruption of food and agriculture means that in the future there will be no meat available from animals

 |  6 May 2024

False. As with nearly every disruption, despite the collapse of the industry, some traditional products will remain.

At RethinkX, when we talk about the disruption of food and agriculture we are really focused on the disruption of industrial animal agriculture—an industry operating with razor-thin margins and extensive government support. This industry is on the path to collapse within the next decade due to the threat of more efficient, higher-quality, cheaper, and more efficient and sustainable products made using new technologies.

As with nearly every disruption, despite the collapse of the industry, some traditional products will remain. Consider the photography or music industries, for example. Despite disruption by digital photographs and music, it is still possible to use film cameras or to buy CDs and records.

In the same fashion, it will still be possible to buy meat from animals. There will always be artisan and subsistence producers that will continue to raise animals on a small to medium scale. Like camera film, records and CDs however, these products will be more expensive than the modern alternative. This is because raising animals for meat is already as cheap as it can possibly be given the economies of scale, genetic modification, density of animals and government subsidies afforded to industrial animal agriculture. Without the industry, raising animals will become more expensive and meat produced in this way will be more of a luxury. This is juxtaposed with modern food production whose variable costs will likely trend toward zero as the disruptions of energy, transportation and food proceed over the course of the 2020s.

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We are on the cusp of the deepest, fastest, most consequential disruption in food and agricultural production since the first domestication of plants and animals 10,000 years ago.

Although traditional meat will still be available, it will become expensive, niche and supplied by artisans. This is because the disruption is primarily a protein disruption driven by economics. The cost of modern proteins will be five times cheaper than existing animal proteins by 2030 and 10 times cheaper by 2035. Eventually, they will be nearly as cheap as sugar.

Learn more about the disruption and transformation of the food & agriculture sector.

Published on: 12/07/23

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