On Plant Protein and the World's Largest Pork Producer

Photo by Gesina Kunkel

Photo by Gesina Kunkel

  • Last week, Smithfield Foods, Inc., the largest pork producer in the world, announced it was launching a plant-based protein product line under its Pure Farmland brand. It will include breakfast patties, meatballs, burger patties, and pre-seasoned protein starters.

  • John Pauley, Chief Commercial Officer for Smithfield Foods said, “We’ve been exploring the alternative protein space, and have taken our time to get it right …

  • "we are bringing together our expertise in creating market-leading food products, our organizational commitment to sustainability, and our deep understanding of ‘flexitarian’ consumers, to deliver a broad variety of flavorful plant-based protein choices that consumers want and can afford at a great value …

  • "crafted in the USA, all items are made with natural flavors, are gluten and dairy free, and serve as a good source of protein. Given that soy is a complete protein, it provides levels of all essential amino acids that many other plant proteins do not provide."

  • Notes: 1) Smithfield Foods, is a subsidiary of Hong Kong based WH Group, 2) their plant-based products are expected to be introduced at some US retailers in mid-September, with availability at over 5,000 locations by February 2020.


  • As Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and other major food producers enter the plant protein market, they leverage their brand, production and distribution capabilities. Consumers will assess their products based on taste, texture and price.

  • Drivers of demand for plant-based alternatives include addressing environmental and animal welfare concerns, along with minimizing health risks. The ultra-processing nature of their products may mitigate some of the potential benefits.

  • The market for meat alternatives and food production innovation is still at an early stage of development. Cell-based meats, plant genome adaption and new farming techniques are among the areas being explored by market participants.

Paul Dravis