Imitation and cultured meats will be the norm by 2040

Twenty-five years from now, you're more likely to be throwing a lab-grown steak on the grill than one taken from a living, breathing cow. The meat industry stands poised for serious disruption by plant-based 'novel vegan' alternatives designed to imitate meat (think the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat), as well as meat grown in laboratories, a.k.a. cultured meat.

This is the conclusion of a lengthy report released by global consultancy AT Kearney and based on expert interviews. The report highlights the environmental damage caused by conventional animal agriculture and the many challenges it faces in a changing world. These include reduced access to land, the rise of antibiotic resistance, stricter limits on agrochemical use, and consumers' increasing sensitivity toward conditions in which animals are raised.

Meat production is also highly inefficient. For example, it takes around 3 kilograms of grain to produce 1 kilogram of poultry meat.

By 2040, they predict that 35 percent of all meat consumed will be cultured and 25 percent will be plant-based 'novel vegan' replacements. These will be more appealing to consumers because of their similarity to real meat, as opposed to 'classic vegan' meat replacements, such as tofu, mushrooms, seitan, or jackfruit, and insect proteins.

Already we're seeing enormous leaps in interest and investment in companies like Impossible Foods, Beyond Foods, and Just Foods. Their products are easily scalable, more shelf-stable than actual meat, flexible in use, and require fewer inputs to produce.