Animal Ag Alliance seeks to keep meat as the “star of the plate”

Despite record-high meat consumption last year, there is a growing perception that animal proteins are no longer the “star” on the plate. The Animal Ag Alliance says that it is urging the situation to turn obstacles into opportunities.

From nutritional quality to sustainability, consumers are shifting their perception of healthy.

According to Rachel Kopay with RJK Food and Agribusiness consulting, “Traditionally, healthy was based on nutritional content and informed by experts. Increasingly, consumers are viewing healthy in a different way with demands for clean labels and greater transparency. They want to know the story behind their food and they seek foods that align with their values.”

However, Kopay says that this does not have to mean a hard line between plant and animal-based products.

“Today, innovators are looking at what they can do to take the best attributes of animal proteins and alternatives and, in reality, most consumers who are buying alternatives are also buying animal proteins in the same basket,” she explains.

Rebecca Doyle, a pork producer and former Illinois Director of Agriculture, sees innovation as an important tool to meet consumer demands for consistent products.

“Pork and beef, especially, still have some ground to gain on product consistency, but innovation through genetics should get us there, and our input providers are helping producers stay cost-competitive by developing innovations for better animal and bird health, improved nutrition, better housing, and especially labor-saving technologies,” Doyle states.

Jennifer Garret, another agriculture consultant, says that producers of all sizes also need to be focused on tracking sustainability on the farm.

“So in sustainability, having metrics that show improvement over time, that are specific and dated, tend to be those that are more trusted by investors, as well as others you see along this value chain,” Garret adds.

Garret is also the co-author of an article titled The Nutritional Limitations of Mimicking Meat, which reasserts animal proteins are superior or equal in nutritional value to their plant-based alternatives.