BY EBEN BAYER
Alt protein might be in the ‘trough of disillusionment,’ but every new technology since the discovery of fire has been there too.
Some people seem overly eager to declare the meatless meat industry dead. The promise of so-called alt protein (admittedly not a very catchy term) was to create healthier alternatives to animal meat so indistinguishably delicious from the real thing that they eventually overtook the entire industry.
That has yet to become a reality, which should be no surprise given how enormous and entrenched the animal-meat industry is. But as flagship companies like Beyond Meat show weakening market share, cratering stock prices, and bonds screaming “bankruptcy,” the understandable reflex is to question whether the innovative alternatives entering the market will, ultimately, be just a flash in the pan.
The reality is that the alt-protein industry is experiencing what every new technology does: the hype cycle. And it predicts that the best is yet to come. In other words, in an era of rapid technological advancements and mass markets, new innovations often emerge as a passing craze, while enduring innovations withstand challenges and provide meaningful uses and genuine value.
The Gartner Hype Cycle is a framework that describes the regular, predictable progression of new technologies from initial excitement to widespread adoption. This hype cycle separates the innovations that will last from the ones that won’t, and I’m convinced alt protein is firmly in the former category.
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