Research Project Overview
The intent of this research project is to assess (1) whether there is an opportunity to improve communication by companies to investors of decision-useful information pertaining to this emerging trend and (2) the potential scope of impact of this emerging issue on the Food & Beverage industry standards. The project will result in a staff recommendation on whether to proceed to standard-setting activities.
Research Project Outcome
SASB staff conducted research and consultations between February 2020 and September 2021. The research and consultation yielded a sufficient body of the evidence and market input to support an informed conclusion that sustainability issues related to alternative products are of interest to investors and financially impactful to the Food Retailers & Distributors, the Processed Foods industry and the Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry. Therefore, the Board initiated a standard-setting project to determine if and how updates can improve the decision-usefulness of these three Standards.
While alternative products are present in the restaurant industry, research and consultation to date do not indicate that these products have enough financial impact to the restaurant industry to be of interest to investors. Staff plans to continue to monitor the prevalence and financial impacts of products within the restaurant industry.
Globally, consumer demand for alternative meat and dairy products is growing, with investment analyst projections of market value reaching between $100B-$140B by 2029. Companies are offering more alternative meat and dairy options (1) to accommodate this growing consumer demand and (2) to reduce their environmental footprint. Preliminary research also suggests that growing consumer demand for these products may impact a company’s financial performance and there is increasing investor interest in alternative meat and dairy products. This is an important trend to evaluate in the context of the SASB standards as it is growing globally, has attracted investor interest, could be relevant in several industries and is not currently addressed in the Food & Beverage industry standards.
- Phase 1 - Completed
- Phase 2 - Completed
- Phase 3 - Completed
- Phase 4 - Completed
- Phase 5 - Completed
Published Documents & Supplemental Materials
There are no published documents or drafts at this time.
New Research Project: Alternative Meat & Dairy Products, April 2020, online blog
Board Materials & Decisions
Board Meeting Outcomes
- Staff reviewed with the Board additional evidence and market input received on the prevalence, financial impact, and investor interest associated with alternative products in the Processed Foods industry.
- The Board agreed with and voted unanimously on staff’s recommendation to expand the scope of the previously initiated standard-setting project on Alternative Products in Food & Beverage to include the Processed Foods industry.
- This Board decision leads to the conclusion of the Alternative Meat & Dairy research project, as standard setting has been initiated through the Alternative Products in Food & Beverage project centred on three industries: Meat, Poultry & Dairy, Food Retailers & Distributors, and Processed Foods.
- Next steps in the Alternative Products standard-setting project will consist of consultations to aid in the development of potential updates to the Standards for the three industries identified above.
- Staff presented key research and consultation findings from the Alternative Meat & Dairy research project, which included a staff recommendation to initiate a standard-setting project.
- The Board unanimously agreed to initiate the standard-setting project recommended by staff: Alternative Products in Food & Beverage. The project scope includes the consideration of new or revised disclosure topics and metrics to address alternative products in the Meat, Poultry & Dairy industry and the Food Retailers & Distributors industry.
- The Board agreed to exclude the Restaurants and Non-Alcoholic Beverages industries from the scope of the standard-setting project. The Board discussed considerations and trade-offs related to whether the Processed Foods industry should be within the scope of the standard-setting project. The discussion centred on challenges related to the prevalence of alternative products in the industry and the feasibility of developing improvements to the existing Standard. The Board ultimately agreed to exclude the Processed Foods industry from the scope of standard setting, but encouraged a resolution to the ongoing research project in a timely manner, given that the sole outstanding question pertains to whether standard setting should be pursued in the Processed Foods industry.
- Staff presented an update and key findings from the consultation phase, including views on the industry-specific relevance of the issue and an assessment of the findings against the criteria for standard setting.
- The Board discussed and provided input on the staff analysis of consultation findings and proposed next steps. The Board expressed further interest in understanding financial impacts, and agreed with the industry-specific approach to assessing the opportunity for standard setting. Furthermore, the Board generally supported the prioritisation of three industries for continued evaluation of standard setting: Meat, Poultry & Dairy, Food Retailers & Distributors, and Processed Foods.
- Next steps in the project will consist of additional research and consultation as the staff continues to formulate a view on advancing to standard setting.
- The board discussed a new research project on exploring the relevance of alternative meat and dairy products across the Food & Beverage sector.
For a full list of past and upcoming Standards Board meetings, as well as associated materials, please visit our Board Meetings Calendar & Archive.
The staff has prepared this summary for informational purposes only. Any Standards Board decisions are tentative and do not change current accounting. Official positions of SASB are determined only after extensive due process and deliberations.