On January 19, Bloomberg contributor Dina Shankar wrote the now infamous piece, “Fake meat was supposed to save the world. It just became another fad,” making vegan blood boil throughout the industry.
“Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods wanted to promote the world’s $1 trillion meat industry. But plant-based meat is going to be a flop,” the piece said, and the debate immediately began. The article was based entirely on Beyond and Impossible, and was not representative of the industry as a whole, many in the business argued.
In a letter of response, VWS founder Jennifer Stojkovich retaliated along similar lines. “If you’re going to claim that plant-based proteins are a fad based on stock performance, you should also take into account the poor performance of Big Meat. And, let’s be honest, if we’re talking the long game, the markets will never be too kind to stocks affected by never-ending pandemics, droughts and the inevitable shortage of meat.”
“While a Beyond Burger may not be a healthy alternative to a lentil patty, no one eats a lentil patty. Americans eat “ultra-processed” foods every day – most of which are meat or dairy products. In fact, four of the top five selling meat products in America are ultra-processed meats,” he noted, quite pertinently.
The following Sunday, January 22nd, Impossible Foods, unable to sit on its hands for long, kicked back by fronting its case with a blog post, with the provocative headline to match the original, “Bloomberg was supposed to report the events. It becomes just another opinion piece”.
“Over several pages of one-sided anecdotes and editorial framing, the story works hard to create a false impression that plant-based meat, once celebrated for its remarkable environmental potential, has nowhere to go. The reporting lacks any data to support its position,” the plant-based meat giant scoffed.
A live debate
In a surprise move, Deena Shankar will join Jennifer on stage for a live debate Vegan Women’s Summit in New York, May 19th Rachel Conrad, industry veteran formerly of Impossible Foods.
Conrad of the upcoming event said: “For the past half decade, journalists have spread the word that the fastest, easiest way to decarbonize the world is to shrink the land, water and energy footprint of agriculture. Like it or not, media coverage affects which startups get funding, the speed at which policymakers offer incentives (and lobbyists respond to them), and whether consumers try new products. Media coverage is important.”
Speaking to Vegiconmist today, Stojkovic enthused: “Media coverage is, by far, the hottest topic of the plant-based and alternative protein industry, as the industry faces an onslaught of critical press pieces, including Dina’s cover page story in Bloomberg Businessweek. . That’s why we can’t think of a better conversation to bring live to The Vegan Women’s Summit in New York this May, as the industry’s leading brands in the future of food culture, conversation and innovation. If we’re going to break the future of food into the mainstream, we’re going to have to ruffle some feathers—no pun intended.”