The segment secured $5 billion in investment, with 100+ companies debuting, according to the Good Food Institute’s annual State of the Industry reports.
Don’t tell your vegan cousin in Los Angeles, but alt-protein is pretty mainstream. The Good Food Institute (GFI) last week released its annual State of the Industry reports, breaking down alt-protein’s 2021 by the numbers. Here are some major takeaways:
Cash cow: Alt-proteins raked in $5 billion in investment in 2021. Plant-based foods scored $1.93 billion, led by Impossible Foods’ $500 million raise. Big Idea Ventures and SOSV/IndieBio led the field with 10 deals each last year, while more than 300 new investors jumped into the category.
- Alt-seafood companies netted $175 million—twice what they secured in 2020.
- Capital invested in cultivated-meat companies was up 336%, to $1.4 billion. Plus, there were eight Series B deals, up from just one in 2020.
- Meanwhile, fermentation companies raised $1.7 billion and received their first round of growth-stage financing last year, with three rounds exceeding $200 million.
Despite this influx of private support, GFI noted that public-sector investment is lagging, though the USDA funded a $10 million grant for the first National Institute for Cellular Agriculture.
Making the sale: In the US, while plant-based food sales rose 6%, plant-based meat sales remained flat after some slowdowns in the latter half of the year.
- The year was a bit more sunny for plant-based eggs, which saw a 42% boost.
On brand: Competition continued to heat up with the debut of 21 new cultivated meat and seafood companies and 15 new fermentation companies. But that’s nothing compared to the plant-based set, where 100+ companies (and over 250 SKUs) debuted in retail.
As product offerings expand, Walmart last year made dedicated space in its freezer section to “position ourselves for this large growth,” Callie Acuff, frozen food merchant at Walmart, told GFI. Looking ahead, her expectations for the plant-based category this year echoed what experts shared with us in January about the meat segment—namely, improvements across quality, texture, and taste.—EC