The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee is inquiring into the potential impairment of the Australian meat industry from the appropriation of product labelling by manufactured plant-based or synthetic protein brands.
The AFI’s submission to the Committee explores in brief two primary issues, namely:
- the economic forecast for the Australian meat sector in light of the projected substitution of alternatives for animal protein, and
- the implications for consumer trust of a continued dichotomous framing of meat versus alternatives as a zero-sum market, and the role of presentation and labelling in either building or undermining that trust.
While recognising the meat industry’s disquiet on the matter, we can find no evidence to support the concern that existing definitions of alternative protein products are currently causing economic harm or impacting consumers’ health on any meaningful scale.
Rather than deception of meat-eating consumers causing a reduction of market share, the more real danger is that misleading or opaque product labelling reduces consumer trust in both the meat and alternative protein sectors. We caution proponents of zero-sum narratives in both animal and non-animal protein camps that cultivation of an ‘us versus them’ mindset creates consumer mistrust which detrimentally affects both market segments.