Co-products continue to suffer declining prices because of artificial alternatives
Alarming sounds are coming from the New Zealand rendering industry. Often called the fifth quarter of the meat industry, rendering is the process of turning the animal by-products into materials or resources ready for use. A lot of these products we actually need or they can benefit us by replacing what would otherwise be sourced from petroleum-based resources (plastics). Think of medicine, cosmetics, confectionary (like the stuff used to make gummy bears), glues and even musical instruments. These by-products are even used in the drywall of our homes.
Though the meat industry is thriving, rendering companies are suffering at the moment because many of their products are being replaced by alternatives following the vegan trend. But if there’s so much demand for vegan products, where are all the vegans? According to the most optimistic data the percentage of vegans in New Zealand is 2% and vegetarians account for 15%, showing an increase of 50% in the last year.
What is worrying is the insistence on vegan alternatives where there is no impact whatsoever on the number of animals slaughtered. If not a single rendering product would be purchased or leather product be bought, the same amount of meat would be produced as the markets are not connected directly. In fact, rendering and leather production are some of the oldest forms of recycling and give value to the concept of ‘using the whole animal’. The root of the problem here is not consumers opting for vegan in anything but what we eat (which would be the easy assumption), but insistent misguiding statements about by-products and an industry focused on making the most of this trend. And that, sadly, is how a lot of good, sustainable materials go to waste.
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