Sergei Kislov – Increasing Demand for Pea-Based Meat in China Improves the Quality of Soils in Other Countries

On Feb. 01, 2021, Time magazine published an article “How China Could Change the World by Taking Meat Off the Menu”.

The article analyzes the tendencies of changes in the traditions of food consumption in the PRC, associated with two trends. On the one hand, the country faces the economic growth and the rise in household income. Thus, since the 1960s, the average per capita consumption of meat in the Celestial Empire has grown by more than 12 times – from 5 to 63 kg per year. Today, China accounts for about a third of world meat consumption, including about half of all pork. On the other hand, rising incomes of the society lead to an increase in people’s concern about their health and striving for more responsible consumption. In particular, this is reflected in the skyrocketing consumption of plant-based alternatives to animal products, such as plant-based meat. The COVID-19 pandemic is another contributor to this trend. The wake of the pandemic drew the attention of people around the world to such aspect as immunity. There is a common belief that switching to a vegan diet can increase the overall resistance to viral threats. For China, the growth of interest in the consumption of plant-based meat is to a certain extent related to the losses incurred by the country as a result of the African swine fever that struck Chinese livestock.

The explosive growth of interest in plant-based meat is evidenced by the impressive number of start-ups that enjoy the favor of investors and the steady growth in the consumption of these products, which, according to experts, is already about USD 1 billion.

“Increasing consumption of plant-based meat in China will definitely cause a growth in demand for structured protein products necessary for its production”, assumes Sergei Kislov, the founder of Yug Rusi Group and former owner of OAO NZNP, a large international processor of grains, legumes and oilseeds. “In particular, we are talking about a crop such as pea. It is the protein from peas, and not from soybeans, that today serves as the basis for creating high-quality meat analogues, including world-famous products.”

“We would avoid thoroughgoing statements that plant-based meat will replace natural meat. However, we believe that vegan food consumption will keep its rise”, says Mr. Kislov. “Based on this assumption, Yug Rusi invests in the production of protein from pea, sunflower seeds and other crops with high nutritional value. Besides, we are increasing the share of peas in the crop rotation structure of our lands”.

In Mr. Kislov’s opinion, high demand for peas is good news for agriculture. “Pea is a great predecessor for other crops. It saturates the soil with nitrogen. Thus, the increased demand for pea protein in China improves soil quality in other countries around the world.” This is another evidence of the complexity and interconnection of economic and environmental processes on our planet.