Plant-based meat sales up 19% to record €2.3 billion in western Europe, report shows

14 April 2022

GFI’s latest state of the industry reports show plant-based meat sales climbed to record highs across Europe in 2021.

Woman eating plant-based burger

Retail sales of plant-based meat in western Europe climbed by an estimated 19% to a record €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2021 – higher than North America at €1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) – according to food sustainability NGO the Good Food Institute’s annual state of the industry reports.

Global plant-based meat sales grew by 17% to €5.15 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2021, while retail sales in eastern Europe also rose sharply by 34% to €176.6 million ($192 million), according to data from Euromonitor.

The reports provide GFI’s expert analysis of the latest developments across the global plant-based, cultivated meat, fermentation and alternative seafood sectors, from technological advances and updates on government policies, to data on investments and sales.

The strides made over the past year by sustainable protein companies and scientists are helping to satisfy growing demand for meat while addressing the problems caused by animal agriculture – which is responsible for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The reports come a week after these foods were highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as having the potential to help halve global emissions by 2030. 

Despite these significant societal benefits, the reports demonstrate that investment in the European sector is lagging behind other parts of the world – so the Good Food Institute Europe is now calling on governments to provide essential funding to ensure the continent benefits from the rise of sustainable proteins.

The state of the industry reports show: 

European investment

Although Europe’s sustainable protein companies raised €2.2 billion ($2.5 billion) last year, much of this came from mergers, acquisitions and stock market listings, with invested capital lower than in other regions.

Europe’s plant-based companies received €228 million ($248 million) in invested capital last year – behind North America at €1,031 million ($1.1 billion) and Latin America at €285 million ($310 million). 

The continent’s cultivated meat companies raised €111 million ($121 million), compared with €643 million ($699 million) in the United States and €345 million ($375 million) in Israel. 

Europe’s fermentation companies raised €117 million ($127 million) in invested capital, while those in North America raised €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion). 

Carlotte Lucas, Corporate Engagement Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Our new state of the industry reports show 2021 was a breakthrough year, with sales of plant-based meat reaching a record €2.3 billion in western Europe, and large companies recognising the significance of sustainable proteins.

“But the report also highlights how far we need to go, with investments in European sustainable protein firms trailing those seen in other parts of the world.

“European companies have been leading innovators in this space, but with other regions – particularly the United States and Israel – taking sustainable proteins more seriously, there is a real risk of Europe falling behind.  “Transforming meat production is essential for European governments to meet their climate targets. To achieve this, the public and private sectors must fund open-access research and supply chain infrastructure to democratise sustainable protein knowledge and open up the market to producers of all shapes and sizes. They must support progress towards delicious, affordable plant-based and cultivated meat, just as they have supported the development of low-cost renewable energy – so that sustainable choices are made easy for consumers.”

Please note: The term “invested capital” refers to accelerator and incubator funding, angel funding, seed funding, equity and product crowdfunding, early-stage venture capital, late-stage venture capital, private equity growth/expansion, capitalisation, corporate venture, joint venture, convertible debt, and general debt completed deals.