Can plant-based meat and dairy producers work with traditional agriculture industry?

Updated: Oct. 22, 2020 at 3:32 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - More and more frequently, consumers are seeing alternative meat and dairy products popping up, like the Impossible Whopper or almond milk. What will that mean for the traditional agriculture industry?

When you hit the dairy aisle of the grocery store, you’re sure to see milk alternatives made from grains or nuts.

Likewise, plant-based meat alternatives are becoming popularized.

Dr. Cheryl Mitchell, a plant-based ingredient specialist, helps create alternate products. But she says there has been something wrong with the process.

“It wasn’t delivering nutrition and what the dairy people have to understand is that what they’re selling is nutrition,” she said.

So she’s proposing hybrid meat and dairy alternative products.

“The real future is actually working with the milk industry or with the meat industry,” she said.

Dr. Mitchell says in the future, technology will use the nutrients from real meat and milk and infuse it into plant-based meat and milk products.

“Then we’re allowing them to become and create and be more sustainable, but it will be a different type of product,” she said.

So what do dairy and livestock producers think? Lucky 7 Livestock Company owner Stephen Winkler raises goats, pigs, and cow for meat. He’s not so sure about lab-made products.

“You take a look at the label of these highly-manipulated, highly-processed items, I’m not sure it’s what we’re supposed to be eating,” he said.

But he agrees with giving people new options.

“It’s good for the public to have choices. But this is what I’ll say - agriculture in our direct community and in our state is an economic driver. Eat as close to home as possible. It’s nothing against these alternatives,” he said.

Farmers like Winkler say they’ll always be there to offer up the good old fashioned products. So what will the future of the milk and meat aisles look like?

We can’t say for sure, but some farmers say they’ll still be there to offer up the old-fashioned product.

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