These are my thoughts after reading great news. If you understand German, please read this article about the largest poultry producer in Germany launching “veggie ham/sausage“ (there is no word for “Wurst” in English, but you get the picture.)
Yes, the company is still unethical for killing billions of sentient beings, polluting the environment and abusing workers (parent company PHG-Gruppe has been accused of some nasty stuff.) However, I am very happy about the fact that they are selling vegan Wurst because it satisfies both my business and ethical mind.
The Business Case for Wiesenhof’s Veggie Meats
People are DEMANDING veg options. The article mentions 10% of the German population being “vegetarian” and a plateau in demand for Wurst (see picture). Yes, German meat producers are literally fearful they will lose customers over veggie options. Several factors play into this rising demand, which I am not going to elaborate upon at the moment [maybe TBDiscussed.]
2. Demand is not always = Supply
“What?” you ask, shocked and appalled by this inefficiency, “Why would businesses not immediately try and satisfy new demands by allocating their resources in R&D and new product lines? Why would they stagnate by using antiquated business models, products, and services?” We all know why: nobody’s perfect, eh.
But far from perfect, the meat industry is messy and political when it comes to catching up with the times. I am used to reading articles on various animal agriculture websites that respond to vegetarianism, the rise thereof and anything else that would undermine the moral correctness and financial profitability of their businesses with false facts, false accusations, and other illusional crap [I’m too tired to link examples at the moment, come back later for juicy evidence.]
3. Finally, Supply.
Not only is Unilever’s Hellmann’s (AKA Goliath) launching a vegan mayo in response to the rise of Hampton Creek Foods’ Just Mayo (AKA David), or has Organic Valley started selling Soy Milk, but the last one to catch up is the German meat industry. Well, maybe not the whole industry, but a few enlightened individuals are. Instead of being messy and political, suddenly they are supplying what German consumers are asking for: veggie meat. A no-nonsense approach to making €€€. But there’s more about that…
4. Porter’s Five Forces
Here, we see a beautiful example of threat of new entrants/rivalry/subsidy (whichever vegan meats fall under – TBDiscussed) being addressed instead of ignored. As a meat producer, if you care for the long-term health of your profits, you cannot ignore these threats. Cannibalism within the Wiesenhof Wurst products is a potential threat, however, seemingly not high enough to not pursue this new line.
Instead of fighting the veggie trend or ignoring it, how about turning it into a valuable asset for your business? Personally, I see this move as a diversification away from one kind of meat (the one derived from the raising and killing animals) towards a more ethical, sustainable and healthy kind of meat (the plant-based one.) A meat producer, Wiesenhof in this case, is protecting itself from the risk of losing “flexitarian” consumers as customers. Additionally, I would argue that Wiesenhof is also gaining the following:
– a reduced risk to their profits falling victim to another bird-flu
– reduced risk of negative PR
– first-mover advantage
– potential new vegan/vegetarian/etc-tarian customers who Wiesenhof has until now 100% missed (and is seemingly not directly targeting, as stated by Ingo Stryck, marketing executive.)
6. Further Potential for Diversification
Whether/When meat producers will embrace cultured meat is still an open question [TBDiscussed.]
The ethical case for optimism for animal rights activists (nay-sayers version)
Quick breakdown of the consequences of the largest German poultry producer selling veggie meat:
1 > Fewer resources of said poultry producer are spent on raising & killing birds
> Fewer animals die. Less water/air is being polluted. Or whatever floats your boat.
2 > Less shelf space is used for meat
> Higher visibility of veggie options
> Easier access for everyone
> Decreased prices
> Increased demand ?! > See 1.
3 > Ethics is profitable.
> More ethical decisions are being made by people who don’t give a crap about ethics.
> See 1.
Ladies, gentlemen & non-binary folks: Ethics needs to be profitable and it is proving to become more and more so.