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  • Writer's pictureShari Leiterman

What's the Real Cost of a Hamburger?

What's the real cost of a hamburger? A Big Mac may seem cheap, but upon further review it is quite costly. In fact, this was explained by the American Institute for Economic Research which noted in April of 2022 that "The United States federal government spends $38 billion every year subsidizing the meat and dairy industries. Research from 2015 shows this subsidization reduces the price of Big Macs from $13 to $5 and the price of a pound of hamburger meat from $30 to $5 we see today."

If taxpayers subsidize meat companies, does this mean that they will be on the hook for more subsidies as the price of beef goes up due to extreme droughts in California in 2023?

For a nation that espouses capitalism, watching the U.S. government, through its taxpayers, subsidize the meat industry by tens of billions a year, is puzzling. This subsidy number doesn't include the portion of the $12.7 trillion of externalized food costs to society, per the FAO, that is attributable to this industry for healthcare costs, production losses and environmental clean-up.

If food is going to be subsidized, wouldn't it be better to subsidize healthy foods such as vegetables and protein-packed legumes that could keep healthcare costs down and the productivity of healthy employees up?

Subsidies bolstering an inefficient and harmful sector is just one of the many reasons, along with climate change, biodiversity loss and over usage of land and water, that the protein industry is under pressure to clean up its supply chains and production with Plant-based Innovation.

This is good news for investors as they seek global secular trends with large-scale growth potential. The meat industry alone is $1.4 trillion.  The dairy industry is $820 billion.  Replacing even part of these sectors provides a large business and investment opportunity. 

This is also good news for the protein industry which will experience shorter, more resilient supply chains for a better bottom line. Governments will benefit from stronger food security and food independence through plant-based innovations like fermented proteins, cultivated meat and hybrid plant-based/meat-based products. As prices come down and adoption increases, consumers, as well as animals and the planet, will also benefit from healthier options.

Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.


For more information on VegTech™ Invest, visit our website here.

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