Asset managers including Aviva Investors and Nordea are among a $1.25trn coalition of investors tackling the meat industry on social and environmental issues.
The group, which is being led investor Jeremy Coller, has launched an engagement with 16 major international food companies on the issue, including Nestle, Unilever, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Ocado and The Co-operative Group.
Reducing global consumption of meat could save $1.5trn of healthcare-related savings by 2050, a recent study from the University of Oxford calculated.
Regulatory trends are also driving consumption habits with the Danish government examining the introduction of a red meat tax, while the Chinese government wants to reduce citizens’ meat consumption by 50 per cent.
Coller, who founded private equity firm Coller Capital, says existing methods of meat production will not address the growing demands globally for protein as policymakers and consumers crackdown on the industry’s high levels of emissions and pollution and low levels of safety and welfare.
“Investors want to know if major food companies have a strategy to avoid this protein bubble and to profit from a plant-based protein market set to grow by 8.4 per cent annually over the next five years.”
The coalition has praised General Mills’ support of start-up company Beyond Meat, which is developing foods to substitute meat products with more sustainable plant-based alternatives.
Other investors in the coalition include Robeco, Bridges Ventures and Menhaden Capital.