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Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan
Dave MacLennan, CEO, Cargill. Image credit Cargill

Brief: Cargill CEO MacLennan says plant-based will ‘cannibalize’ its protein business

June 9, 2021

  • Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan has said that his company is preparing for a big shake-up in its business over the next few years, as consumer demand for the new generation of plant-based protein products eats into market share for meat from slaughtered animals.
  • “Our analysis is that in […] three to four years, plant-based will be perhaps 10% of the market,” he said at a conference held by the US National Grain & Feed Association. “We’re a large beef producer and that is a big part of our portfolio. So there’s some cannibalization that will occur,” Reuters reported him as saying.
  • The Cargill CEO also said that Cargill doesn’t expect China’s domestic livestock feed industry to become self-sufficient anytime soon. MacLennan’s comments came amid growing calls from Chinese authorities to ramp up internal production, even as the Asian country imported a record amount of grain for feed purposes last year.

Why it matters:

Cargill has been trying to increase its footprint in the plant-based protein space of late, anticipating the consumer shift away from animal protein.

The US agribusiness giant is a key supplier of pea protein to plant-based patty maker Beyond Meat through a joint venture with Puris Foods, and recently earmarked $475 million to expand its US soybean crushing capability.

Cargill has also launched its own range of plant-based meat alternatives in China. Its PlantEver retail brand is available to consumers following a trial period with enterprise customers including fast food chain KFC in the country last year.

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