Beyond Burgers and Plant-Based Chicken: A Look at the Growth of New Meat
Since the emergence of COVID-19 and in the context of climate change, consumers are increasingly aware of the health, ethical, and environmental concerns of industrial meat.
Further, in 2020, the pandemic led to closures of meat processing plants and widespread delays in the supply chain for meat and dairy products, among other food items. One outcome of this was increased interest in alternatives to animal products and the rise of New Meat, also known as Alt Meat or alternative protein.
New Meat products aim to replace traditional meat, and the term covers both lab-created meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products. Since 2012, the investment in this space has increased by a whopping 24x.
Accelerators and Incubators Dedicated to New Meat
The United States is by far holding the largest share of VC investment in New Meat, at 58.5% in 2020. But there are other forms of support for the growing industry in other countries.
Berlin’s ProVeg Incubator is one of the key players supporting the New Meat market. It offers grants and optional equity investment to startups developing plant-based and cultured food. Big Idea Ventures has allocated a $50 million fund to support the development of plant-based meat, seafood, and dairy products, as well as ingredients and technologies that support these categories. It also offers a five-month accelerator between New York City, Singapore, and Paris.
In Asia, China’s Dao Foods Incubator offers $80,000 to companies focused on the development and growth of alternative meat products, and Mylkubator is a cultured and fermented alt-dairy accelerator backed by Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual.
Key Players in the New Meat Industry
In 2019, one of the world’s biggest alternative protein brands, Beyond Meat, went public at a valuation of almost $1.5 billion. The company produces the hugely successful Beyond Burger and reported net revenues of $407 million in 2020, a year-over-year increase of almost 37%. The other leading plant-based burger manufacturer, Impossible Foods, raised $200 million at Series G in August 2020, which brought its valuation to $4 billion.
In 2020, international expansion and partnerships with major fast-food players were key themes in the alternative meat space, as reported by the Good Food Institute. Examples include Starbucks partnering with Beyond Meat to launch several plant-based meat items in its stores in China, KFC adding plant-based chicken nuggets to its menus in China and Lightlife vegan chicken to its Canadian menu, and Canadian fast-food chains White Spot and Triple O’s adopting the Impossible Burger.
Want to know more about tech startup ecosystems? Take a look at the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021.