Future Steak?

The shoppers of the world don’t know it yet, and farmers are only just beginning to worry about it, but supermarket meat aisles are probably on the cusp of change. Another range of products will soon appear alongside the traditional steaks and lamb chops. They’ll be identical to what we know as meat, but with a major difference: they will have been made in an industrial-scale laboratory…

…A growing group of food scientists and food companies believes we are about to enter an era when no animal needs to be killed and no land grazed to create meat. The economics are getting better and better. It’s good news for lab meat pioneers, vegetarians and animal ethicists. For the Australian and New Zealand meat industries, its effect may depend on how they react.

America’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods, gave the economics of lab meat a vote of confidence in January 2018 when it bought into lab meat startup Memphis Meats. It joined global food production giant Cargill, a company with annual revenue of more than US$100 billion a year.

With these two industry giants now backing the lab meat push, development is likely to ramp up and costs are expected to come down. Lab meat could be on the menu even earlier than forecast. Most estimates now see it coming to market within 10 years.

When it arrives, lab meat will take its place alongside increasingly sophisticated plant-based “meat” products from companies such as Beyond Meat and the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods.

These last two are already widely available and easy to prepare into a delicious snack or main course. Sufficient fat and protein guarantee mouth feel, flavor and texture. So – for the time being – the vegan alternatives to traditional slaughterhouses is ahead. I buy and consume them on a weekly basis. Still…looking forward to see what the labgrown animal product will have to offer.

What will you do when your favorite gas station runs dry, this summer?

Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. Good luck finding gas.

Not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply.

According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason.

“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”…

Not just any truck driver is allowed to drive a tanker truck. It requires special certification, including a commercial driver’s license, and weeks of training after being hired. And while the jobs are more attractive than some long-haul trucking jobs that can keep drivers away from home for days or weeks at a time, it is strenuous, difficult work.

Holly McCormick, who runs the workforce committee for NTTC, said another problem was the shutdown of many driver schools early in the pandemic. The pipeline of new drivers those schools would have produced has yet to be filled, she said. And then there’s a new federal clearinghouse that went online in January 2020 to identify truck drivers with prior drug or alcohol violations or failed drug tests, which knocked about 40,000 to 60,000 total drivers out of the national employment pool.

Oops!