Consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has come up with findings showing the biggest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to improve and scale up the production of meat and dairy alternatives.
Plant-based alternatives to meat have proven to deliver the highest savings on emissions compared to other carbon reduction technology methods.
The findings from the report from Boston Consulting Group show that for each dollar invested in the production of plant-based meat, three times more greenhouse gasses were saved compared to an investment in green cement technology, seven times more compared to green buildings development, and 11 times more than zero-emission cars.
The biggest reason for the high emissions savings of plant-based alternatives to meat hides in the major difference between the greenhouse gases emitted when producing conventional meat and dairy products, and when growing plants. One example is beef which has 6-to-30 times higher carbon footprint than tofu.
BCG also states that meat alternatives could grow much faster with technological progress which would result in better products, scaled-up production, and regulatory changes leading to an even higher climate change mitigation impact.
“There’s been a lot of investments into electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels, which is all great and helpful to reduce emissions, but we have not seen comparable investment yet [in alternative proteins], even though it’s rising rapidly… If you really care about impact as an investor, this is an area that you definitely need to understand,” said Malte Clausen, a partner at BCG.
Investments are also growing into alternative meat products. Funding for fermented products and cell-based meat has jumped from $1bn (£830m) in 2019 to $5bn in 2021.
Right now they make up 2% of meat, egg and dairy products sold, but they are projected to rise to 11% in 2035 on current growth trends. BCG also estimates this growth would reduce emissions by an amount almost equivalent to global aviation’s footprint.
One concern, however, remains the popularity and preference of plant-based meat among consumers. A survey included in the report includes more than 3,700 people from the UK, US, China, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. 30% of them say they would switch to alternative protein products if they had a positive climate impact.
90% of people interviewed liked at least some of the alternative-protein products they had tried but consumers pointed out that the products had to cost no more than those they were replacing.