The alternative protein space attracted $930 million in investments in Q1 2020, surpassing all of 2019’s $824 million in funding.
According to new reports from The Good Food Institute (GFI), 2019 and Q1 2020 have seen record periods of investment in alternatives to traditional animal products. GFI is a nonprofit organization that promotes the advancement of alternative proteins, such as plant-based meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood as well as cultivated meat and seafood—real animal products grown from cells, without the unsustainable cycle of industrial animal agriculture.
The group’s state of the industry reports identifies key moments in 2019 that contributed to record-breaking numbers for vegan proteins and those cultured in a lab, including California-based brand Beyond Meat’s IPO in May 2019. This was the first time that a plant-based meat brand went public. By June, shares were up 550 percent.
Plant-based meat, dairy, and egg products received more than $747 million in investments in 2019, including $457 million in venture capital and $290 million raised by Beyond Meat’s IPO. Cultivated meat companies, such as cell-based protein startup Memphis Meats, raised more than $77 million in capital.
Alternative Protein Investing in 2020
GFI Associate Director of Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell said that “durable and increasing interest in alternative proteins” has fueled the surge in investor confidence. “Investors have seen the market opportunity and are moving to capitalize on a global shift in the way meat is produced,” she added.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Q1 2020 has seen alternative protein brands raise a significant $930 million. Impossible Whopper-maker Impossible Foods raised $500 million in March. Plant-based chicken nugget startup Rebellyous Foods raised $6 million last month.
The LIVEKINDLY co., a collective of plant-based heritage and start-up brands including The Fry Family Food Co., LikeMeat, and LIVEKINDLY, raised $200 million.
“Many of our readers are not vegan, but they still read our articles—they are just as excited about this space as we are and this is exactly what we hoped for when LIVEKINDLY began in 2017,” says Jodi Monelle, CEO and founder of LIVEKINDLY.
Cell-based meat is also attracting investor attention: Memphis Meats raised $186 million Series B earlier this year, exceeding its 2019 investments.
Although COVID-19 has greatly impacted US foodservice—the food and drink industry accounted for 60 percent of jobs lost in March—alternative protein brands have adapted by pivoting to e-commerce channels and delivery. GFI predicts that the pandemic may have made consumers more wary of food safety, which could increase their interest in plant-based options.
“Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown was right when he said this space is having a moment,” says Monelle, “But really this is just the beginning.”