Data release by the Good Food Institute (GFI) found 2021 was a ‘record year’ for investment in companies creating alternatives to animal-based foods, including – but not limited to – plant-based meat, cultivated meat and fermentation companies devoted to alternative proteins.
Investment activities within these industries was five times as much as the $1bn (£746.9m) raised in 2019.
Of the industries that secured investment last year:
- Cultivated meat and seafood companies secured $1.4bn (£1.04bn) in investments in 2021
- Fermentation companies devoted to alternative proteins secured $1.7bn (£1.27bn) in investments in 2021
- Plant-based meat, seafood, egg, and dairy companies secured $1.9bn (£1.42bn) in investments in 2021
GFI senior investor engagement specialist Sharyn Murray said: “The investor community is beginning to see the huge potential of alternative proteins to transform our food system, as well as the strong potential to meet their target returns.
“With more and more investors acknowledging that climate risk is investment risk, alternative proteins offer a scalable solution that gets the world closer to a more secure, carbon-neutral food system. Managing climate risks is impossible without addressing food, and agriculture and alternative proteins offer us a tool to do that.”
While investment into the alternative proteins sector was fuelled by multiple factors, GFI identified public health and environmental crises has the key driver of growth in 2020 and 2021 – the COVID-19 pandemic and energy crisis.
Impact of global crisis
Against this backdrop, the prospect of meat produced with zero risk of contributing to zoonotic disease transmission and dramatically less emissions than conventional meat garnered greater attention.
Caroline Bushnell, GFI vice president of corporate engagement, added: “Considering the scale of emissions reductions that would occur with a shift to alternative proteins, this is a critical moment to invest in the technologies and innovations that can move our food system to net zero, and fast.
“Ramping up investments in sustainable alternative proteins will allow companies to fund critical R&D, scale production, and bring down costs to effectively compete with conventionally produced animal protein and ultimately bring alternative proteins to more plates.”
Meanwhile, meat-free foods failed to grow market share throughout Veganuary 2022, compared to January last year, according to Kantar figures cited by levy body AHDB.