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Investment in alternative protein at lowest level since 2018, Pitchbook analysis shows

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Mosa Meat is one of the cultivated meat firms that will participate in the Dutch controlled tasting sessions. Credit: Mosa Meat, Redwan Farooq
Mosa Meat is one of the cultivated meat firms that will participate in the Dutch controlled tasting sessions. Credit: Mosa Meat, Redwan Farooq

Related tags alternative protein cultivated meat plant-based Investment

Funding for alternative-protein businesses is at its lowest level since Q2 2018, analysis by financial data and software company Pitchbook has shown.

Alternative-protein businesses around the world received $2.3bn (£1.8bn) in investment during the first quarter of 2023, the lowest total since Q2 of 2018.

Pitchbook tracks quarter by quarter global investment in the ‘foodtech’ sector, which includes cultivated meats, fermented proteins, plant-based proteins and edible insects.

Regulatory blocks to cultivated meat

Pitchbook analyst Alex Frederick said that existing regulation had “stifled​” funding in the past, although it remains to be seen how recent changes impact the landscape.

In June 2023, the US Department of Agriculture greenlit the sale of Upside Foods and Good Meat cultivated protein products, while the Dutch government approved initial cultivated meat controlled tasting sessions earlier this week.

Commenting on the decision in The Netherlands, Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: "It's great news that the Dutch Government, in collaboration with producers Meatable and Mosa Meat and sector representative HollandBIO, have successfully created a code of practice for cultivated meat and seafood tastings in controlled environments in the Netherlands.”

Funding decline

As recently as Q4 of 2021, funding for foodtech business was valued at $13.8bn (£10.9bn) globally, but each quarter since has seen that number decline.

As a whole, there was more than double the investment made in 2021 than in 2022, with that trend looking set to continue.

At the British Meat Processor’s Conference in June​, ​Paul Wood, professor of clinical sciences at Monash University, fielded the question, “was cultured meat transforming the industry?”​ and proceeded to break down just how far along the technology has come and what sort of disruption to the market meat processors could expect.

Despite the high-profile investments being made in the sector, Wood didn’t believe that cultured meat would be anything more than a premium commodity only available in high-value markets and we would be unlikely to see a burger made from cultivated cells any time in the near future.

In related news, Finnebrogue has joined forces with Ivy Farm, a cultivated meat technology firm, to develop a wagyu beef burger designed for sale in the UK​.

Related topics Meat, poultry & seafood

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