Investors push for shift in protein supply
Sept. 28, 2016
by Erica Shaffer
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The Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) initiative aims to convince food manufacturers to reduce animal proteins in favor of alternative proteins such as insects.
LONDON – A coalition of 40 institutional investors with a valuation of $1.25 trillion is making a business case to several multinational food manufacturers for the adoption of alternative proteins instead of traditional meat and poultry production.
The Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) initiative aims to convince food manufacturers to reduce the use of animal proteins in favor of alternative proteins such as plants; insects, lab-cultured meat; macro and micro algae; dairy-free milks made from nuts, seeds and grains; and meat substitutes made from soy, wheat and peas, for example.
The companies targeted by this initiative include Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Unilever, Tesco, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and General Mills. Other members of the FAIRR Initiative include Aviva Investors, Boston Common Asset Management and a number of charities and ethical investor companies.
In a document titled “The Future of Food: The investment case for a protein shake up,” FAIRR and responsible investment charity ShareAction, argued that “factory farming” is emerging as an unsustainable production method linked to environmental and social risks, including:
- Greenhouse gas emissions;
- Supply chain disruption; and
- Negative impacts to public health, animal welfare and natural resources.
Jeremy Coller, CIO of Coller Capital and founder of the FAIRR Initiative, explained in a statement that overreliance on “factory farmed” livestock to feed a growing world population would lead a financial, social and environmental crisis.
“Intensive livestock production already has levels of emissions and pollution that are too high, and standards of safety and welfare that are too low,” Coller said. “It simply can’t cope with the projected increase in global protein demand.
“Investors want to know if major food companies have a strategy to avoid this protein bubble and to profit from a plant-based protein market set to grow by 8.4 percent annually over the next five years.”
In August, UK-based ShareAction launched an online campaign urging consumers to write letters to McDonald’s Corp. CEO Steve Easterbrook about the use of antibiotics in the quick-service chain’s global livestock supplies.
“The trend for ‘less but better meat’ is creating new opportunities on plates and in portfolios,” Clare Richards, campaigns manager at ShareAction, said in a statement. “Evidence suggests that plant-based protein sources are better for your health, your wallet, and the planet. Consumers increasingly recognize these benefits; and now this coalition of forward-thinking investors is doing the same.”