Supermarkets: a drive towards sustainability?

I heard so many thought-provoking presentations from outstanding academics at the Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) Conference 2020.

One such talk was given by Joanna Trewern from the Centre for Environment & Sustainability, University of Surrey. Her study focused on the intervention in supermarkets for “less and better meat”. She found that retailers have no targets or strategies for reducing meat sales, however many are trying to focus on more sustainable meat, for example, locally sourced. Some intend to make targets for plant-based targets, and indeed recently Tesco has set a sales target for plant-based alternatives. Many supermarkets did not feel they had the duty to influence customer attitudes and demands, merely to reflect them.

This is something I found very interesting, especially in light of the next presentation I heard which was from Cristina Stewart at the University of Oxford, who spoke on meat consumption trends in the UK. It is well known that reducing meat consumption protects the environment, but that globally average per capita meat consumption is increasing. In UK beef consumption needs to decrease 89% to stay within planetary boundaries. This study took place from 2008/9–2016/17. Groups were categorised by year of birth rather than age group. An interesting find was that the youngest survey group- born after 1999- are the only group increasing their consumption. Although they did have a lower starting base point, I found this a surprising trend. I would be interested to know if it was red or white meat. The study found that on average daily meat intake decreased by 12g per day, 8.4 g of which was red meat. In contrast, white meat consumption increased.

This trend in decreasing meat consumption and an increase in plant-based foods is, in my view, an incredibly attractive investment. As an active investor, spotting trends early is important, which is why I have chosen to invest in companies that offer plant-based alternatives such as ALOHA and JUST.

Nicole Junkermann is a self-made, international entrepreneur and investor.