GFI's chart shows the sharp increase in invested capital and deal count for the alternative-protein sector in 2020.
According to new data from The Good Food Institute (GFI), 2020 was a record period of investment in companies offering sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based foods, among them global plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies; cultivated-meat companies; and fermentation companies dedicated to alternative proteins. Occurring in tandem with the social, environmental and economic crises of last year, the increase also indicates a rising interest in climate-friendly investments with returns beyond the bottom line.
Conducted using the PitchBook Data platform, GFI’s analysis of investment activity within these industries found that global alternative protein companies received $3.1 billion in disclosed investments in 2020 — more than three times as much as the $1 billion raised in 2019 and four and a half times as much as the $694 million raised in 2018. Alternative-protein companies have raised nearly $6 billion in invested capital in the past decade (2010–20), more than half of which was raised in 2020 alone:
Plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies received $2.1 billion in investments in 2020 — the most capital raised in any single year in the industry’s history and more than three times the $667 million raised in 2019. Plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies have raised $4.4 billion in investments in the past decade (2010–20). Almost half, or $2.1 billion, was raised in 2020 alone, including Impossible Foods’ record $700 million funding haul, which comprised a $500 million Series F in March and a $200 million Series G in August; Livekindly’s $335 million venture capital financing; Oatly’s $200 million private equity and $78 million debt financing; and Califia Farms’ $172 million private equity financing.
Cultivated-meat and -dairy companies received more than $360 million in investments in 2020, six times the amount raised in 2019 and 72% of the amount raised in the industry’s history (2016–20). These investments included the first two Series B raises in the segment: Memphis Meats’ landmark $186 million round, and Mosa Meat’s $75 million round. On the cultivated-dairy front, TurtleTree Labs raised a disclosed $9.5 million, while Biomilq raised a disclosed $3.5 million.
Fermentation companies dedicated to alternative proteins received $590 million in investments in 2020, more than double the amount raised in 2019. Among these investments were Perfect Day’s $300 million Series C funding round and Nature’s Fynd’s $45 million debt round, the latter the first disclosed venture debt capital raised by a fermentation company. Fermentation companies have raised $1 billion-plus in investments since the first GFI-tracked investment in 2013, 57% of which was raised just in 2020.
“The investor community is waking up to the massive social and economic potential of food technology to radically remake our food system,” Sharyn Murray, senior investor engagement specialist at Washington, D.C.-based GFI, a nonprofit working internationally to make alternative proteins delicious, affordable and accessible, funded entirely by private philanthropic support. “Early trendsetters like Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats and Mosa Meat continue to perform well, and there are more and more entrepreneurs who see the potential of alternative proteins to succeed in the marketplace while having a positive global impact on food sustainability and global health.”
“2020 was a breakout year for alternative proteins, with record investment flowing into all segments of the industry,” added Caroline Bushnell, GFI’s director of corporate engagement. “This is yet another signal of the significant potential the private sector sees in this rapidly growing global industry. While the amount is record-breaking, more investment is needed — from both the public and the private sectors — to meet the urgency of this moment. A large-scale shift toward alternative proteins will be critical to mitigating the environmental impact of food production, meeting the Paris Climate Agreement, and sustainably feeding a growing global population.”
GFI’s “State of the Industry” reports, due out in May, will offer deeper insights on the state of alternative proteins.