Investment in meat alternatives trebles last year according to the GFI

By David Stevenson on Thursday 18 March 2021

Investment in meat alternatives trebles last year according to the GFI
Image source: Public Domain Pictures

New data released this week by the Good Food Institute (GFI) reveals that globally, 2020 was a record period of investment in companies creating sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based foods A record £2.2 billion invested in sustainable proteins in 2020 – 3x the amount invested in 2019 (£710m), with British raising a record £41 million in 2020 – almost half of the total invested in the UK sector since 2006. Plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation companies have raised £4.3 billion in invested capital in the past decade (2010–2020), more than half of which was raised in 2020 alone.

We think it's worth picking up on this data because it gives us a brilliant snapshot of how interest in alternative proteins is picking up momentum. Our core contention here at FutureFoodFinance is that we are still at the very early stages of a huge multi-decade investment cycle. Figuratively we are still in the sloping foothills of the mountain of investment that will be needed to fund this new food revolution. That means most of the investment going into the sector is still early-stage venture capital and angel money. But this data from the GFI shows that we are already seeing relatively serious amounts of money going into the space – over £2 billion is a significant sum, though we’d wager that by the mid 202s that sum will be in the tens of billions, much of it provided by private equity and large food corporations.

GFI’s data comes from a deep dive into PitchBook Data platform and shows that, globally, the sector received £2.2 billion in investments in 2020 – which is more than three times as much as the £710 million raised in 2019.

According to the GFI, the sector raised a record £380 million in 2020 across Europe – more than four times the £87 million invested in 2019, and over 70% of the £517 million invested since 2006. European companies raised almost 17% of the total invested worldwide in 2020. British companies raised £41 million in 2020 and almost £38 million in 2019 – making up over 90% of the £86 million raised in the UK since 2006.

  • Plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies received £1.5 billion in investments in 2020 globally – the most capital raised in any single year in the industry’s history and more than three times the £478 million raised in 2019.  In Europe, plant-based companies raised £263 million in 2020 alone – almost four times the £71 million invested in 2019. UK companies accounted for almost £38 million of this – £23 million of which was raised by Meatless Farm alone.Plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies have raised £3.15 billion in investments in the past decade (2010–2020) – almost half, or £1.5 billion, of which was raised in 2020 alone. This included Swedish company Oatly’s £143 million private equity and £56 million debt financing. 
  • Cultivated meat companies received more than £258 million* in investments in 2020, which is six times the amount raised in 2019 and 72% of the total raised in the industry’s history (2016–2020). This included Dutch company Mosa Meat’s £54 million series B round. In Europe, cultivated meat companies raised £75 million in 2020 – 28% of the global total – compared with £8 million in 2019. British company Higher Steaks raised £1.68 million in 2020, while the UK’s entire cultivated meat sector raised less than £180,000 in 2019.
  • Fermentation companies devoted to alternative proteins received £423 million in investments in 2020, which is more than double the amount raised in 2019. This included Perfect Day’s £215 million Series C funding round and Nature’s Fynd’s £32 million debt round – the first disclosed venture debt capital raise by a fermentation company. Fermentation companies have raised more than £710 million in investments since the first GFI-tracked investment in 2013, 57% of which was raised in 2020 alone. In Europe, fermentation companies raised over £43 million in 2020, compared with £8.5 million in 2019. In the UK, £1.6 million was invested in precision fermentation company Better Dairy.
Methodology used by GFI

“To quantify this investment activity, GFI used its company database to create a custom list of global plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies; cultivated meat companies; and fermentation companies devoted to alternative proteins tracked by PitchBook Data Inc. This yielded a list of more than 550 companies. GFI was unable to include some qualifying plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation companies – namely, those in the early stages of development – because they do not yet have profiles on PitchBook. Please note that the figures published in this release may differ from prior figures published by GFI as we continuously improve our dataset. 

For the purposes of this release, “investment”, “investment capital”, and "invested capital" are used interchangeably to refer to deals including accelerator or incubator funding, angel funding, seed funding, equity or product crowdfunding, early-stage venture capital, late-stage venture capital, private equity growth/expansion, capitalisation, corporate venture, joint venture,  convertible debt, and general debt (but excludes mergers, acquisitions, reverse-mergers, buyouts and leveraged buyouts, IPOs, subsequent share offerings, and private investment in public equity). 

2020 data pertains to the 52-week period ending 31 December 2020. Figures for Europe include those for the UK. This data has not been reviewed by PitchBook analysts.”

*Although animal cell culture has primarily been applied to cultivated meat production to date, this data also includes £9 million in investments in companies using similar processes to produce dairy. 


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