Meat Shortages Poised to Worsen During COVID-19

Scientists Suggest Consuming Bugs and Algae as Alternative Protein Sources for a Sustainable Future

By IGI Global Author Relations Team on May 7, 2020

Editor Note: Understanding the importance of this timely topic and to ensure that research is made available to the wider academic community, IGI Global has made a sample of related articles and chapters complimentary to access. View the end of this article to freely access this critical research.


Meat processing plants are shutting down as nearly 3,400 workers tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States alone. Due these closures, the threat of a global meat shortage is looming with the USDA reporting that beef production is down 25% and pork production is down 15%. In response to these shortages, grocery stores are raising their prices upwards of US$ 3 per pound and consumers are “panic buying” meat freezers, cold cuts, and poultry. However, what may be more shocking is the harsh reality farmers and meat plants are facing as they are now euthanizing millions of animals and dumping them into landfills.

According to a recent Vox article, farmers are forced to euthanize their animals due to the concern of overcrowding and inhumane conditions. They report multiple occurrences with one poultry processer announcing that they will euthanize 2 million chickens and the Minnesota Pork Producers predicting that nearly 80,000 hogs will be “put down” in Minnesota alone. Although, legislation was passed to support continued meat production, it is becoming more and more difficult for the plants to replace workers as they need to be highly skilled.

“…millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” John Tyson, Chairman of the Board of Tyson Foods.

“With industrialization and economic development, meat has obtained an established presence for the mass-market consumers in the affluent Western countries as well as for those with higher incomes in the burgeoning economies of the developing world,” explains Profs. Diana Bogueva, from Curtin University, Australia and et al., in the publication Handbook of Research on Social Marketing and Its Influence on Animal Origin Food Product Consumption (IGI Global). “This is a very new situation compared to meat’s previous status of rarity, exclusiveness, and prestige in the past.”1

Handbook of Research on Social Marketing and Its Influence on Animal Origin Food Product Consumption
Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 453 | ISBN: 9781522547570| EISBN: 9781522547587

This publication is a critical scholarly resource that examines the role of social marketing in understanding and changing behavior regarding the negative impacts of consuming animal-based foods...Learn More.

However, with this change in the food supply, meat is now becoming a rarity once again, with many questioning the future of the food supply and looking to alternatives to sustain themselves during the pandemic and predicting that this event will drastically affect meat production in the future.

Experts are suggesting that people turn to a plant-based diet and look for protein alternatives rather than ransacking their local grocery store and stockpiling food that will likely spoil. The publication Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market (IGI Global), outlines various alternative protein sources that consumers can purchase, and these include:

  • Nuts, Legumes, Vegetables, and Soy: Protein sources such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products like tofu or tempeh are important for a plant-based diet. Nuts and seeds also provide valuable unsaturated fatty acids. Through balancing these food sources, individuals can consume the needed proteins and nutrients that their bodies need. Additionally, these food sources can be packaged and produced to create meat-like substitutes, such as the Impossible food line and other soy-based meat products (i.e. Morning Star, Tofurky, etc.)

  • Insects: Insects are another source of food that can assist individuals in reaching their needed levels of protein and fatty acids. According to Prof. Anna K. Żołnierczyk, from Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland, “Insects have a high nutritional value. They are a rich source of protein which includes all eight essential amino acids.” She continues to explain that consuming insects for protein is not a new trend, with over 2,000 species of insects consumed in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand alone.2

  • Microbes: Another meat alternative is microbes, which include algae, fungi, and yeast. Although this concept is new to many Westernized countries, it has been used for nearly a millennium as food sources in China, Thailand, and South Korea. These microbes are full of vitamins, proteins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, and are more digestible compared to animal proteins.

Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market
Copyright: © 2019 | Pages: 395 | ISBN: 9781522573500| EISBN: 9781522573517

Awarded “Best in the World” and national winner in the Vegetarian Writing category from the 2020 Gourmand Awards, this publication is a pivotal reference source that provides vital research on the development of plant-based foods and nutritional outcomes...Learn More.

These alternative protein sources have been around for over a millenium, with many cultures around the world consuming them; however, according to Profs. Giovanni Sogari, from University of Parma and et al., they have been slow to adapt into the United States and many Westernized cultures due to the mass consumption of meat and overall stronghold meat has in specific cultures. They argue that with the correct marketing, cost, and promotion of the health benefits and shelf life, these alternatives can lead the way for the future of the food supply chain.3

One of the most notable shifts to these protein alternatives was in 2011, with the Netherlands looking to integrate more insects into their diet. Through the utilization of marketing, commercialization, and integration, insects are now mass consumed by the population with insect-laced chocolate and sold at wholesale.

“By satisfying the five criteria related to taste, cost, health, shelf life and marketing, the alternatives to animal-based products can find their way into society and contribute to the creation of new more sustainable minimum energy conditions that encourage better health and environment related options,” explain Profs. Kurt Schmidinger, from University of Vienna, Austria and et al.

Not only can these alternatives lead to the lessening of “panic buying meat,” but through the integration of these alternatives, it can lead to environmental positives, as the environmental footprint for producing meat is much bigger compared to other food sources, with increased greenhouse emissions, phosphorus production, land and water consumption, and causing biodiversity loss. Additionally, these alternatives can lead to better dietary health habits, decreased risk of mortality due to consumption habits, and increased animal wellbeing.

Although the future of the food supply in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain, creating more awareness, commercialization, and education around meat alternatives can lead the way to a more sustainable food supply chain and limit the need for the mass production of livestock for meat packaging plants in the future.


In support of educating consumers on meat alternatives, the latest research on this topic is readily through the award-winning publication, Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market (IGI Global), edited by experts Profs. Diana Bogueva, Dora Marinova, and Talia Raphaely, from Curtin University, Australia, and and Kurt Schmidinger, from the University of Vienna, Austria. This publication recently was awarded “Best in the World” and national winner for Australia in the "Vegetarian Writing" category of the 2020 Gourmand Awards, and analyzes innovative and disruptive trends in the food industry and presents opportunities utilizing meat alternatives to create a more engaged consumer, a stronger economy, and a better environment.


This is the second publication to receive a Gourmand Book Award for editors Dr. Talia Raphaely and Dr. Dora Marinova, whose IGI Global publication Impact of Meat Consumption on Health and Environmental Sustainability received "Best Sustainable Foods Book" in 2017. To learn more about these notable awards, view the IGI Global press release here.

These publications are currently available both in electronic (EISBN: 9781522573517; EISBN: 9781466695542, respectively) format through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore at a 50% discount, and is featured in IGI Global’s InfoSci®-Books database (5,300+ e-books). Recommend these publications and the InfoSci-Books database to your library to have access to this critical research, as well as thousands of other research resources, including the chapters below, in the IGI Global InfoSci-Books database.

Complimentary Research Articles and Chapters on Meat Alternatives, Environmental Science, and Sustainability:

In response to the timeliness and importance of this topic, we have made all of the below articles and chapters complimentary to access. As such, please feel free to integrate these resources into your research and share them across your network.

  • Meat Myths and Marketing
    Prof. Diana Bogueva (Curtin University, Australia) and Prof. Ian Phau (Curtin University, Australia)
    Copyright: © 2016 | Pages: 13

  • Is Meat a Luxury?
    Prof. Diana Bogueva (Curtin University, Australia), Prof. Dora Marinova (Curtin University, Australia), and Prof. Ian Phau (Curtin University, Australia)
    Copyright: 2018 | Pages: 15

  • Microbial Protein: An Essential Component for Future Food Security”
    Prof. Akash Saklani (Gurukula Kangri University, India) and Prof. Navneet (Gurukula Kangri University, India)
    Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 15

  • Health Benefits of Eating More Plant Foods and Less Meat
    Prof. Patricia Marshall (Curtin University, Australia & Australian Diabetes Educators Association, Australia) and Prof. Dora Marinova (Curtin University, Australia)
    Copyright: 2019 | Pages: 24

View All Chapters and Articles on This Topic

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Contact IGI Global’s Marketing Team at or 717-533-8845 ext. 100 to access additional peer-reviewed resources to integrate into your latest news stories.

Featured Publications Surrounding Meat Alternatives, Environmental Science, and Sustainability:

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Research Anthologies on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice Copyright: © 2019 | Pages:592 | ISBN: 9781522580638| EISBN: 9781522580645

This is an authoritative resource on the latest technological developments in urban agriculture and its ability to supplement current food systems. The content within this publication represents the work of topics such as sustainable production in urban spaces, farming practices, and urban distribution methods.

Learn More
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Handbook of Research on Globalized Agricultural Trade and New Challenges for Food Security
Prof. Vasilii Erokhin (Harbin Engineering University, China) and Prof. Tianming Gao (Harbin Engineering University, China)

Copyright: © 2020| Pages: 574| ISBN: 9781799810421| EISBN: 9781799810438

This publication is an essential publication that seeks to improve food security, food independence, and food sovereignty in the conditions of globalized agricultural trade and addresses the contemporary issues of agricultural trade including major commodities and food products traded between major countries, directions of trade, and trends. The book also examines the effects of tariff escalations, administrative restrictions, other forms of trade protectionism on food security, and the emerging trade tensions between major actors such as the US, China, the EU, and Russia.

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Cases on Green Energy and Sustainable Development
Prof. Peter Yang (Case Western Reserve University, USA)

Copyright: © 2020| Pages: 583| ISBN: 9781522585596| EISBN: 9781522585619

This scholarly publication is a critical research book that focuses on the important role renewable energy and energy efficiency play in energy transition and sustainable development and covers economic and promotion policies of major renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies. Highlighting a wide range of topics such as economics, energy storage, and transportation technologies, this book is ideal for environmentalists, academicians, researchers, engineers, policymakers, and students.

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Agricultural Development and Food Security in Developing Nations
Profs. Wayne G. Ganpat (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago), Ronald Dyer (Grenoble School of Management, France), and Wendy-Ann P. Isaac (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)

Copyright: © 2017| Pages: 370| ISBN: 9781522509424| EISBN: 9781522509431

This scholarly publication is a pivotal reference source for the latest scholarly material on promoting advancements in agricultural systems and food security in developing economies. Highlighting impacts on citizens, as well as on political and social environments of a country, this book is ideally designed for students, professionals, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners interested in recent developments in the areas of agriculture.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.

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1 Bogueva, D., Marinova, D., & Phau, I. (2018). Is Meat a Luxury?. In D. Bogueva, D. Marinova, & T. Raphaely (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Marketing and Its Influence on Animal Origin Food Product Consumption (pp. 172-186). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-4757-0.ch012

2 Saklani, A., & Navneet,. (2019). Microbial Protein: An Essential Component for Future Food Security. In D. Bogueva, D. Marinova, T. Raphaely, & K. Schmidinger (Eds.), Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market (pp. 98-123). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-7350-0.ch006

3 Sogari, G., Liu, A., & Li, J. (2019). Understanding Edible Insects as Food in Western and Eastern Societies. In D. Bogueva, D. Marinova, T. Raphaely, & K. Schmidinger (Eds.), Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market (pp. 166-181). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-7350-0.ch009

4 Schmidinger, K., Bogueva, D., & Marinova, D. (2018). New Meat Without Livestock. In D. Bogueva, D. Marinova, & T. Raphaely (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Marketing and Its Influence on Animal Origin Food Product Consumption (pp. 344-361). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-4757-0.ch023
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