In 2011, we slaughtered an estimated 58 trillion chickens.
A vain attempt to contextualise such an astronomical figure:
This is roughly 8300 chickens for every single human being in a single year
22 whole chickens for every single human being, every single day, in a single year
The gallus gallus domesticus equivalent of exterminating the global population of humans, every single day for 22 years
“Madness”, “insanity”, “how?” were all words that came to mind while trying to grapple with this figure. The main take-away though, was that the food production industry is broken but this is not exactly new news.
What is new news, however, is that revolution is afoot. Biotechnology is facilitating rapid and almighty change in an industry that has not faced disruption of this scale since the Industrial Revolution. The triumvirate of biology, technology and human ingenuity are combining to form ‘Compromise Abolishers’. We are at a stage of development in the West where for a product to be desirable and mass market, compromise on quality or taste is no longer an option.
The revolutionary role of biotech companies, or Compromise Abolishers, is in resolving the tension below by overhauling our notions of what meat is and can be.
Consider Impossible Foods with their now famous Impossible Burger already available at restaurants across the US, made purely from plants with zero hormones, antibiotics or artificial ingredients. Inventors at Impossible Burger refused to compromise, they did not want to create just another meat alternative, they wanted to create a product so utterly brilliant that traditional meat would simply not be able to compete. After years of studying the make up of the perfect beef burger, they discovered that it is ‘heme’ that makes meat mean business, that makes it so compelling to meat-eaters, and that happily, can be reproduced without harming animals.
Memphis Meats is another anti-compromise outfit with an even more radical concept; real meat that does not involve the farming or slaughter of a single creature. How? By taking cells from a living animal and cultivating them in a lab. Growing not rearing meat, means creating genetically identical meat without harming a single living being.
While these developments might feel futuristic, they are happening now. There is a strong brand lesson at play here that we have always known, brands that resonate with people are those that solve a tension in people’s lives. The majority of the populace will not accept what feels like going backwards, taking a dent in our perceived quality of living for a greater cause. This is where the Compromise Abolishers come in, they are heroes that resolve the tension between doing what we want and doing the right thing because they make compromise unnecessary – they give us a better product designed with a better world in mind.
With thanks to Ryan Bethencourt Program Director and Venture Partner at IndieBio for the fascinating talk he gave to Kantar Added Value and Kantar Futures last week, which provided the inspiration for this post.