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Beyond Meat boss calls for tax on meat to encourage shift to plant-based food

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The boss of the world’s largest plant-based meat company has backed a tax on meat to encourage a shift away from animal products. (Reuters)
The boss of the world’s largest plant-based meat company has backed a tax on meat to encourage a shift away from animal products. (Reuters)

The boss of the world's largest plant-based meat company has backed a tax on meat to encourage a shift away from animal products.

Ethan Brown, founder of Beyond Meat, told the BBC that taxing meat consumption could encourage emerging markets to invest in plant-based protein. Some of these markets are increasing meat consumption rapidly as more people move out of relative poverty and into a growing middle class.

Mr Brown pointed to figures showing that shoppers are already eating more plant-based food.

"If you look at shopper data that we have, 93 per cent of the people that are putting the Beyond burger in their cart are also putting animal protein in," he said.

"That says we're getting more and more penetration into the broadest swath of the market, which is people who are consuming animal protein, but again, are hearing this information about their health or maybe hearing about climate, or maybe uncomfortable with factory farming, they're deciding to cut down on their consumption of animal-based products."

Beyond Meat is among companies seeking to drive a move towards a more sustainable diet.

Price is seen as one of the biggest obstacles to that shift, because plant-based meat substitutes - which use protein from vegetables such as peas - are more expensive than the real thing.

A tax would make animal products more expensive, benefitting Beyond Meat among others.

Mr Brown also pointed to a deal Beyond Meat signed in February with McDonalds and Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

"As we scale, we'll begin to be able to underprice animal protein - if you look at our facilities, and you look at the facilities of say, some of our plant or animal-based competitors, right, we're still a very small company [but] that's going to change.

"One of the reasons I was so focused on these deals with McDonald's and with Yum is because I believe that's the route to [bringing] costs down and to scaling and to being able to make these products accessible to every consumer that wants them."

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