Drought Hedge: Fake Meat

A blog about business and economics.
July 30 2012 8:53 AM

Drought Hedge: Fake Meat

A corn plant grows in a field parched by drought in Olmsted, Ill.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Corn prices, which moderated a little bit last week, are up to a new record high this morning as drought continued to batter the American farm belt.

The biggest impact of this grain shortage, in the end, may not be on the price of grains. That's because growing corn and then eating the corn turns out to be a pretty efficient way of translating corn into calories. An alternative method—much less efficient but wildly popular nonetheless—is to feed the corn to animals and then eat the animal. So meat consumption ends up being very intensive in its dependence on basic commodity inputs like the increasingly scarce corn and soy.


One possible consequence of this is a growth opportunity for fake meat products. These have traditionally been targeted at a strict vegetarian popupation, which is a small—and seemingly not growing—slice of the population. But over the past few years more and more meat eaters have at least tried to experiment with less meat-intensive diets so there's more familiarity with the basic product. And if higher prices are going to force people to shift away from their favorite cuts over to stuff they don't like as much, that can create more openings for a switch to fake meat. In pure pun terms, my hope would be that the high price of corn would be good news for Quorn, but Farhad Manjoo writes that it's actually a new company called Beyond Meat that's really cracked the code in terms of deliverying a faux-chicken product that tastes like the real thing. Its availability is limited to a relatively small number of stores now, but with poultry feed prices skyrocketing there's a big opportunity here.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
Oct. 2 2014 12:10 PM Women of America, Here Are the Cities Where You Can Find Marriageable Men
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 12:04 PM The Audio Book Club Debates Gone Girl, the Novel
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:41 AM Dropbox Recruiting Video Features Puppets and Data Privacy
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?