Plant-based meat market in Western Europe surged in 2020 while cultivated meat sector attracted a bumper number of firms, according to Good Food Institute report

By David Stevenson on Monday 10 May 2021

Plant-based meat market in Western Europe surged in 2020 while cultivated meat sector attracted a bumper number of firms, according to Good Food Institute report
Image source: New age meats/ GFI
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The three reports span the plant-based, cellular agriculture and fermentation sectors in 2020 and show highlights across the sectors, including new products, investment levels and regulatory changes.

The Western Europe market for plant-based meat jumped nearly 20 per cent on the year in 2020 while the number of cultivated meat companies surged by over 40 per cent, according to findings from the Good Food Institute’s (GFI) State of the Industry reports.

The trio of reports, published today, cover the plant-based, cellular agriculture and fermentation sectors.

Overall, the reports show that 2020 was the biggest year to date for sustainable protein company launches, private investment and retail sales.

But as the GFI points out that while year-on-year growth continues to trend upwards, the market share of plant-based and cultivated meat, and other sustainable proteins remains just a fraction of the overall market.

And, the GFI said, this will remain the case unless governments fund basic R&D as they’ve done for other climate-friendly innovations.  


Plant-based sector

Hundreds of new products launched while global plant-based meat retail sales passed $4bn (£2.83bn) in 2020. New technology illustrated the potential to advance the market and regulatory wins on food labelling helped the sector.

Despite food industry disruptions caused by the pandemic, the growth of plant-based proteins signals a growing global appetite for more sustainable alternatives to conventional animal products, the GFI said.

Category expansions, beyond the burgers that led the next-generation plant-based category, in the sector in 2020 included plant-based Waygu beef from JAT Oppenheimer and Top Tier Foods, plant-based chicken from Rebellyous Foods, Field Roast, and Simulate (formerly Nuggs), and plant-based pork from Beyond Meat and OmniPork. 

Several plant-based meat companies moved closer to price parity, including Impossible Foods via price reductions, Beyond Meat via value packs, and Before the Butcher via its Mainstream line. 

Total U.S. retail plant-based food sales grew twice as fast as animal-based food sales in 2020, hitting $7 billion (£4.9bn) while plant-based meat crossed the billion-dollar mark and grew 45 per cent in dollar sales from 2019. 

Plant-based dairy categories in aggregate grew by 24 per cent to $4.4 billion (£3.11bn) while the plant-based egg category grew by 168 per cent.

Investment in plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy companies surged in 2020. Plant-based protein companies raised $2.15 billion (£1.52bn)—more than three times the amount raised in 2019—representing 48 per cent of all-time sector funding. 

Cellular agriculture

2020 was a year of firsts for the cultivated meat industry, marked by a head of government consuming cultivated meat in Israel and the first commercial sale of cultivated meat in Singapore. The regulatory approval of a cultivated chicken product in Singapore is a key indicator for regulatory green lights in other countries, and the sector made headway in advancing the viability of industrial-scale production, said the GFI.

In 2020, Eat Just launched the commercial sale of its cultivated chicken bites at restaurant 1880 in Singapore. 1880 sold the product to consumers for the first time via a series of invitation-only dinners in December before adding it to the menu in early 2021. 

Other highlights include three of the eight major 2020 cultivated meat tasting events being for seafood products—fish fillet, sushi-grade salmon, and lobster. 

Investment in cultivated meat companies topped $350 million (£247m) in 2020, nearly double the previous cumulative investment in the industry while 2020 also saw the industry’s first Series B funding rounds. 


In 2020, the fermentation sector continued to expand, with several key developments across the commercial, product, investment, science and technology, and government and regulation landscapes, the GFI noted.

Key highlights in 2020 include thirteen startups dedicated to the use of fermentation for alternative proteins launching, along with new suppliers focused on fermentation-enabled alternative protein ingredients. 

Activity in precision fermentation, meanwhile increased, with nine of the 13 new companies focused on precision fermentation, three on biomass (an area with significant activity in 2019), and one on traditional fermentation. 

Fifty-one known companies are now dedicated to fermentation- enabled alternative proteins, an increase of 34 per cent from 2019. 

On the product front, Meati Foods launched whole-cut steak and chicken made through submerged fermentation. Atlast Food Co. introduced its brand MyBacon produced via biomass fermentation and presold all planned capacity through 2023. 

Prime Roots sold out its soft-launch inventory within hours, launching animal-free bacon, chicken, pork, and beef products in their online store. 

Perfect Day commercially debuted animal-free ice cream with recombinant casein and whey protein, including a retail launch via Brave Robot and introductions at multiple ice cream chains. Other companies, including New Culture, Change Foods, Cultivated, and LegenDairy, recently emerged to create dairy proteins and fats. 

Investment-Wise, fermentation companies raised $587 million (£415m)—more than two times the amount raised in 2019—representing 57 per cent of all-time sector funding.