Goldman Sachs is warning investors away from livestock, with going as far as to label livestock as one of the most precarious investments alongside oil. Why?
Global investor network FAIRR a London based outfit that raises awareness of the material ESG risks and opportunities caused by intensive livestock production has released a new report that says a whopping 44 of the 60 largest meat, fish and dairy companies are at a high risk of creating the next zoonotic pandemic.
Three in four emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic — passed on from animals to humans — with previous strains of swine flu, avian flu and Nipah virus traced back to livestock.
Zoonotic diseases stemming from livestock have the potential to be devastating, able to spread and mutate quickly given the animals’ tightly packed conditions, high stress levels and lowered immunity.
Without safe conditions, these diseases can be transmitted directly to workers from infected animals or to a larger population through animal products or waste.
“Factory farming is both vulnerable to pandemics, and guilty of creating them,” private equity investor and FAIRR founder Jeremy Coller said. “It’s a self-sabotaging cycle that destroys value and risks lives.”
Each company was ranked according to seven criteria including deforestation and biodiversity loss, food safety, excessive antibiotic use and health and safety conditions for both livestock and workers.
Among the high risk category are JBL in Brazil and Venky’s in India, suppliers to giant retailers such as McDonald’s.
In all 16 companies were considered medium risk. Not a single company studied ranked low risk.
The coronavirus pandemic has already dealt a significant economic hit to the livestock industry.
In the United States, four of the largest companies dropped 25 per cent during the pandemic and following recession. The cattle industry is projected to lose nearly $13 billion.
Firms are already warning investors away from livestock, with Goldman Sachs going as far as to label livestock as one of the most precarious investments alongside oil.
With the meat industry taking hit after hit, sustainable food options are looking pretty good right about now.
Plant based alternatives and meat mimickers, such as Impossible Meats and their ever popular burger, are already taking the world by storm.
Compared to the livestock supply chain, plant based proteins have proved more resilient to shocks, easier to scale up or down depending on the market and don’t carry the same health risks as livestock.
With COVID impacting meat and dairy, these sustainable options are now able to compete price wise on even ground.
It is also highly likely that retailers and manufacturers will turn to increasing amounts of plant based protein with the livestock supply chain so unstable.