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Report: Investment in Alternative Proteins Hit Record High in 2020

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Funding in alternatives to conventional meat products reached $3.1 billion last year, according to a new Good Food Institute report.

Food companies invested a record $3.1 billion in the development of alternative protein products during 2020, according to data released this month by the Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit organization that supports the development of plant-based and cultivated protein products.

The data indicates that the market for alternative protein products is accelerating. About $1 billion was invested in alternative proteins during 2019, according to GFI.

“2020 was a breakout year for alternative proteins, with record investment flowing into all segments of the industry. This is yet another signal of the significant potential the private sector sees in this rapidly growing global industry,” said Caroline Bushnell, director of corporate engagement for GFI, in a release. “While the amount is record-breaking, more investment is needed – from both the public and private sectors – to meet the urgency of this moment. A large-scale shift to 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.”

Analyzing figures gathered in the PitchBook Data platform, researchers found that plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies committed $2.1 billion to alternative proteins in 2020. Over the year, Impossible Foods secured $700 million in funding over several rounds and Califa Farms received $172 million in private equity financing.

$360 million was invested in cultivated meat firms last year, including Memphis Meats’ $186 million series B funding round. Companies involved in fermented alternative proteins received $590 million in funding during the period.

“The investor community is waking up to the massive social and economic potential of food technology to radically remake our food system. 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.”

Last year, Cargill introduced a line of plant-based patties and ground products for retail and food service, Nestle announced plans to collaborate on plant-based proteins with Burcon and Merit, and Ingredion acquired 100% ownership of a plant-based proteins joint venture.

The global market for alternative proteins is expected to grow dramatically over the next five years. A forecast by Emergen Research posits the market’s value will rise to $3.89 billion by 2027.

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