The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas last week produced some of the best and wackiest innovations in tech to date.
We saw foldable phones, roll-up TVs, indestructible pantyhose and wireless charging phone cases to name just a few.
But at the end of the convention, some unlikely guests stole the show.
Impossible Foods, a plant-based food company backed by Bill Gates, won three ‘Best of CES 2019’ awards and beat all other tech companies by being awarded the ‘Best of the Best’ title.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’re likely already aware of Impossible Foods and the marvels of their food engineering. And if you’re not, you soon will be.
Back in 2016, the company launched the ‘Impossible Burger’ which is a vegan alternative to a traditional beef patty. It looks, tastes and cooks like a regular beef patty, but with none of the health downfalls or environmental impacts.
Their original burger was instantly a hit with consumers on supermarket shelves and restaurants. But according to those who tasted the ‘Impossible Burger 2.0’ at CES, their tweaks have brought the patty even closer to the real thing. Demand has been so high since the launch in fact, that Impossible Foods will be rolling out the burger earlier than expected — distributing it to thousands of restaurants within the next few weeks.
Although some may consider it odd for a company known predominantly for burgers to be at a technology show, when it comes to the future of food, innovation is essential.
As the chief communications manager Rachel Conrad confirmed in a speech at the convention:
‘In fact, food is the most important technology on our planet. It’s literally required for life. It’s also been failing to innovate for about 10,000 years. That’s when humans started killing animals and cooking them as a cheap source of protein.’
The Impossible Burger’ Source: Impossible Foods
A meat-lovers hell
According to The Economist, with the world’s population set to hit 10 billion by 2050, we will need to increase our food production by about 60% to cope.
This is a daunting prospect, as the environmental impacts of agriculture are already straining our Earth’s resources to the limit. The current food system is responsible for 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions, uses approximately 70% of all fresh water resources and takes up around 40% of the Earth’s land surface.
The livestock and dairy industries are particularly detrimental, taking up 83% of farmland while only providing 18% of calories.
According to the largest study done to date on reducing the damage farming does to the Earth, avoiding meat and dairy is the single best thing you can do to reduce your footprint.
Published in the Science Journal in June 2018, the research conclusively found that if the world was to give up animal products we could reduce farmland use by more than 75% (an area equivalent to China, the US, Europe and Australia combined) while still having enough food. This would not only save wildlife that are going extinct due to mass deforestation, but ensure our water levels are sustainable and climate change is kept at bay.
As head researcher of the study Joseph Poore confirmed:
‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use…it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.’
The study also found that even the most sustainable meat production causes double the environmental harm of the least sustainable vegetable and cereal farming. This is a reality that is very difficult to change, as Poore reiterated: ‘Converting grass into [meat] is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.’
The widespread media coverage of this study is great news for Impossible Foods. In December, The Economist even dubbed 2019 the ‘Year of the Vegan’ thanks to the push for a healthier, more humane diet picking up steam in the mainstream.
It seems that people are finally waking up to the fact that our current agricultural system is unsustainable. And looking for alternatives to the cruelty and environmental impacts that come with consuming a diet high in animal products.
Impossible Foods founder, and former Stanford biochemistry professor, Pat Brown was also confident in the company’s ability to make waves in the meat industry. After the resounding success of their Impossible Burger 2.0 launch, the company is now working on creating a realistic mock-beef steak:
‘If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak…that will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry.’
If there’s anything to take away from the CES show, it’s that there are plenty of innovative companies with true potential still out there. In the wake of all of the market crashes and uncertainty around Brexit and the US-China trade war, many people are wary about investing in anything, let alone technology stocks. But as we’ve seen, there’s still hope. Even if it comes in the form of a burger and fries.
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All the best,
Editor, Money Weekend
PS: How to get in on these high-risk tech plays with massive potential. Find out here.