In its latest monthly report, the New Zealand Treasury said that while there will be no major impact in the next five years, the sector bears monitoring.
It said that despite the growth and innovation in the artificial meat sector, “it is unlikely that the potential impact to New Zealand's meat industry will cause significant disruption within the Treasury's forecast period (the next five years)”.
The New Zealand Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast meat consumption per capita to remain roughly constant in developed economies such as the European Union and in the US, over the next 10 years, while meat consumption per capita in developing economies is forecast to increase as household incomes rise.
However, the Treasury does expect that, towards the end of the forecast period and for some time after, increasing pressure from artificial meat products is certainly a risk the meat industry in New Zealand will face.
It said: “While, artificial meats may not be in a position to significantly disrupt the market at present, they do pose a risk. This risk is not sufficiently certain in timing or magnitude to meaningfully incorporate into the Treasury’s economic forecasts at this stage. However, it is a risk that the Treasury will continue to monitor.”
The Treasury said those concerned should watch the cost of these alternatives. “Currently, while some artificial meats are available to consumers, they generally cost more than natural meats. However, as production increases and technology is improved, it is likely that the cost will decline. If the cost per unit for lab-grown meat, or other artificial meats declines below the cost of natural meat, we may see price-sensitive consumers, and some fast food chains, changing their purchasing decisions.”
A recent example of the potential market disruption it cited was Air New Zealand offering the ‘Impossible Burger’, a burger made with synthetic meat, on flights between Los Angeles and Auckland.
A recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand report also outlined four possible scenarios for the red meat sector, which ranged from the protein being shunned to still being an everyday food item.