The true costs of meat

How much your beef burger would cost when considering environmental effects

6.78 US Dollar – That is how much more one kilo of beef mince costs in comparison to its equivalent from plant-based source when considering its environmental footprint!

Does that massive difference sound unbelievable to you? Blue Horizon, the pure play investment pioneer in the food 4.0 sector calculated the exact figures on environmental impacts of animal and plant-based food together with PwC in its recent study “Environmental impacts of animal and plant-based food“. It provides detailed and robust data and the real prices of consumption of animal proteins and their vegetable plant-based alternatives, in a consistent framework across different meat categories and

To get back to the question above: yes, it is true. On average, one kilo of conventionally farmed beef mince generates environmental costs of USD 7.26. This contrasts with costs of only USD 0.48 per kilo for its plant-based alternative. An incredible difference of 6.78 Dollars! For pulled chicken and pork mince the gap is smaller but still significant:  USD 1.66 compared to USD 0.30 per kilo for poultry and USD 0.72 versus USD 0.21 for pig meat.

The environmental footprint of plant-based alternatives has proved to be significantly lower than their animal counterparts. The strongest gap can be observed for beef mince. Here the impact of alternative protein is 15x lower than conventionally farmed beef, followed by chicken, with a 5.5x lower impact and pork at 3.4. Even for egg, the animal-based product with the lowest environmental footprint, the impact of the alternative is more than 3x lower than conventionally farmed egg.

PWC Study

By looking at the potential impacts of switching away from animal products to more sustainable alternatives, the study delivers other impressive facts and figures. For instance, with a 10% switch to plant-based alternatives by 2030, 176 million t CO2 emissions could be avoided, 38 million hectares of land could be freed and 8.6 billion m3 water saved per year. In other words: If 10% of the global animal market was replaced by alternative plant-based products, by 2030 we could expect to save CO2 emissions  equivalent to 2.7 billion trees, an area of land bigger than Germany and enough water for everyone in the state of New York for five years.

This study is a true breakthrough, as it enables all stakeholders to factor in external costs into food prices in order to correctly assess the risks and future opportunities.

The impressive numbers clearly demonstrate that there is an enormous potential to disrupt mass markets by supporting the transition of the global food industry through replacing animal proteins with healthy, alternative protein sources across the global supply chain.