Record €2.6 billion invested in sustainable proteins in 2020 – 3x the amount invested in 2019
18 March 2021
New data released today by the Good Food Institute reveals that globally, 2020 was a record period of investment in companies creating sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based foods.
New data released today 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, including plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies; cultivated meat companies, which grow meat from animal cells; and fermentation companies, which use microorganisms to produce meat, eggs and dairy.
These foods offer consumers the meat, eggs and dairy they enjoy today – but produced in clean, antibiotic-free ways, using far less land and water, and causing drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions. Amid the multiple social, environmental and economic crises of 2020, these new figures signal a growing appetite for climate-friendly investments with returns beyond the bottom line.
GFI’s analysis of investment activity within these industries was conducted using the PitchBook Data platform and shows that the sector received almost €2.6 billion in investments in 2020 – which is more than three times as much as the €830 million raised in 2019. Plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation companies have raised €5 billion in invested capital in the past decade (2010–2020), more than half of which was raised in 2020 alone.
Across Europe, the sector raised a record €441 million in 2020 – more than four times the €101 million invested in 2019, and over 70% of the €600 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 €1.75 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 €558 million raised in 2019.
In Europe, plant-based companies raised €305 million in 2020 alone – almost four times the €83 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 €3.67 billion in investments in the past decade (2010–2020) – almost half, or €1.75 billion, of which was raised in 2020 alone. This included Swedish company Oatly’s €167 million private equity and €65 million debt financing.
Cultivated meat investment
Cultivated meat companies received more than €300 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 €63 million series B round.
In Europe, cultivated meat companies raised €86 million in 2020 – 28% of the global total – compared with €9 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 received €493 million in investments in 2020, which is more than double the amount raised in 2019. This included Perfect Day’s €250 million Series C funding round and Nature’s Fynd’s €37 million debt round – the first disclosed venture debt capital raise by a fermentation company. Fermentation companies have raised more than €840 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 €50 million in 2020, compared with almost €10 million in 2019. In the UK, £1.6 million was invested in precision fermentation company Better Dairy.
More investment needed
GFI director of corporate engagement Caroline Bushnell said: “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. 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.”
Carlotte Lucas, corporate engagement manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Over the past year, plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation companies have demonstrated not only resilience but acceleration. Investors are recognising the immense potential of this industry.
“But while many promising startups have successfully generated interest in the earliest fundraising rounds, it has often been challenging for companies to raise sufficient later-stage growth funding on quick timelines. Access to these transformative investments will be essential for companies to be able to grow and build out the large-scale production capacity we need to make sustainable proteins accessible to all.”
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. 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 €11 million in investments in companies using similar processes to produce dairy.