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The Rise of Exotic Meat

We’re pleased to introduce you to some menu items you may be less familiar with than the typical chicken or beef. We’re talking yak, ostrich, elk, pheasant, venison, alligator and beyond. But before we dive into these meats, we wanted to start by taking a look at the most #basic meats in the U.S. and how they became so common.

The United States of Beef

Although the boxes to check on most wedding RSVPs are still, chicken or beef, many sources report that beef consumption is on the decline in the U.S. Tangentially, according to Food Business News beef prices have been rising for the past few years which could have influenced the shift to a cheaper protein. But WHY are we so obsessed with these seemingly random farm animals? Meat eating in general, especially conventional “normal” cuts of meat are directly correlated to income. On paper, the more money a country has, the more meat its populace consumes. BUT according to NPR, Americans still eat more meat than other “rich” countries.

Before you Yak...

The rate at which Americans are consuming beef and chicken likely didn’t surprise you, but some of these facts and figures might. Did you know agriculture demands 70% of the world's fresh water or that 50% of global greenhouse gases can be linked back to livestock? If this leaves you wanting to throw your hands in the air and become a vegan you’re not alone. If this information makes you throw your hands in the air and say “but there’s still no way I’m becoming a vegan” read on… These sustainability issues, among others, might be some of the reasons consumers are looking to alternative sources for meat with less impact on the environment and potentially less negative impact on the body. Here are a few of the top meats you may or may not have heard of that we expect to be on the rise in the next year.

Yak: Move over beef and bison, the meat of 2019 is here! Luckily, yak doesn’t have to rely on a pretty name-- with higher protein than most other meats, plenty of beneficial oleic acids, and only 3-5% fat-- yak can effectively do whatever it wants.

Oxtail: According to Pinterest’s Top 100 for 2019 searches for recipes using oxtail grew by 209% and are expected to keep growing. Why the sudden interest? Besides the desire to use every part of the animal, it’s a good source of iron and is cheap, tender and flavorful when cooked properly. Not to mention, Oxtail is typical of traditional Cuban and Chinese dishes and we continue to see a consumer desire to eat authentically.

Gray Squirrel: You know that thing you almost hit in your car on the way to work today? Well turns out they make our list of one of the most sustainable meats you can eat. Gray squirrels specifically are an invasive species and are wiping out both wildlife and the native red squirrels in many countries across the world, and particularly in the UK. All we’re saying: don’t get squirrely if you see squirrel on a menu in the near future.

Venison: With an increasing distrust for the FDA and a rise in the flexitarian diet, we expect to see venison and other wild game in plenty of restaurants and home kitchens as consumers get more comfortable with wild game. A quick google search of “Wild Game” + Your city’s name will demonstrate how commonplace these meats are becoming in the restaurant industry and beyond.

What this Means for Brands

Consumers are starting to become more privy to alternative options for food as the climate (pun intended) begins to change how we view food. We spoke with Austen Overman, an avid outdoorswoman, and fellow Room 214 employee to get further insight into the increasing interest in knowing where food comes from. She told us, “hunting and cooking with meat, straight from the source, bring [her] a deep sense of connection with nature.” Not only that, but she mentioned a growing distrust of supermarket meats and, for her, hunting solved this -- “No need to worry about GMO’s, antibiotics, preservatives, or unethical treatment of animals. All of the meat I cook with is lean, locally sourced, all-natural, free-range, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO, and I can guarantee an ethical harvest.” Austen is one of many consumers moving away from store-bought meat and turning to more natural options. Move over meat & chicken, there’s a new sheriff in town and we’ve heard he’s wild!

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For media inquiries please email fwt@room214.com

Vanessa Kahn


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