Wasted resources


By Tony Hunter, food futurist

Why oh, why is everyone so transfixed on getting countries like the US and Australia to eat less conventional meat? I continue to read articles about companies having a ‘US focus’ or trying to convince these consumers that plant-based meats are healthy or not ultra processed foods. All aimed at convincing consumers to eat more alternatives to conventional meat.

Trying to convince these consumers to eat less conventional meat is an enormous undertaking, consuming vast amount of resources, and to what success? In at least the short to medium term these and other high meat consuming countries are a lost cause! Meanwhile, countries in Africa and Asia continue to scale conventional food systems borrowed from places like the US, Australia etc. Expending resources to offer countries who are developing their food system state of the art food technologies is a much better use of those resources. Do we want to decrease US/Australian etc conventional meat consumption by 10 kg/person or offer other countries totalling several billion people alternatives to growing their conventional meat consumption by 20, 30 or 40 kg/person?

After all, our western model current global food system is not without its problems. Massive resource usage, nutrient runoff, dead zones, vast deforestation, climate change, biodiversity destruction, the list goes on. Implementing state of the art food technologies would enable developing food system countries to avoid these sorts of problems. In the meantime, developed food system countries need to clean up their act and reduce their unsustainable resource usage.

As I’ve said before, offering alternatives to conventional animal agriculture is not some sort of ‘Food colonialism’, or “no more meat for you”. It’s about offering countries currently developing their food systems viable alternative technologies that offer them not just food security, but food sovereignty. Would you advise countries developing their telecommunications systems to dig trenches, lay copper wire and develop a homegrown desktop handset industry?

Offering billions of people an alternative source of protein would seem like a more pragmatic idea than trying to convince people in countries like the US and Australia that they should eat a few kilos less conventional meat.

Tony Hunter is a global futurist, food scientist, speaker and foresight strategy consultant. He consults and speaks globally, using his distinctive combination of scientific qualifications, business experience and detailed understanding of exponential food technologies to deliver a unique perspective on the future of food.