WASHINGTON – Investments in meat alternative companies surged in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, according to The Good Food Institute (GFI). The Washington-based non-profit that advocates for the alternative protein industry said investments in US plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies was $747 million in all of 2019. That number surged to $741 million during the first quarter of 2020.
“Investors have seen the market opportunity and are moving to capitalize on a global shift in the way meat is produced,” said Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement for the GFI. “This record-level investment will bolster the industry and support continued growth and innovation for the long term, ensuring that alternative protein companies have the resources to grow and thrive, particularly during times of short-term market volatility.”
US plant-based animal protein alternative companies have raised $2.7 billion in venture capital in the past decade, according to the GFI. Forty-five percent, or $1.2 billion, was raised in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 alone.
Cultured animal protein companies, those that use cultured cells to generate raw material, raised more than $77 million in 2019, 63% more than what was raised in 2018. In the first quarter of 2020, cultured meat companies raised $189 million, more than the amount invested in the category’s prior history, with Memphis Meats’ $186 million Series B funding round.
“Plant-based and cultivated meats give consumers everything they like about meat but produced more sustainably,” said Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the GFI. “Most of the conventional meat companies have reconstituted as protein companies, and 9 of the 10 biggest have either launched or invested in plant-based meat, cultivated meat, or both. With historic pressures on conventional meat production, we expect to see the large meat conglomerates double down on their alternative protein investments.”
Nielsen data cited by the GFI indicates plant-based meat sales have risen sharply during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Plant-based meat dollar sales grew 265% over the eight-week period ended April 18, according to the market research company, which is six times faster than conventional meat sales.