Lever China Alternative Protein Fund Announces Investments in Five Pioneering Plant-Based and Cultivated Meat Startups

Hero Protein-frizzled pork tenderloin
Courtesy of Lever VC

The Lever China Alternative Protein Fund, including early investors in Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, announces today it has completed its first five investments in pioneering early-stage plant-based and cell-cultivated meat companies in China.                                              

The Lever China Alternative Protein Fund was launched in early 2020 by Lever VC, a leading global alternative protein venture capital fund whose partners were early investors in Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and Lever Foods, a Shanghai-based consultancy that advises on the alternative protein space. The Fund is operated in partnership with the Brinc Accelerator, a Guangzhou, China-based alternative protein incubator and accelerator run by Brinc, a leading global provider of accelerator services.

The five startups as announced today are as follows:

  • HERO Protein:  Lever China Fund participated in the pre-seed round for this Shanghai-based company, whose plant-based chicken, beef and fish products were formulated by former senior R&D executives at Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein and Morningstar 
  • HaoFood:  Lever China Fund led the pre-seed round for this Shanghai-based plant-based chicken company developing tasty and nutritious ground chicken and chicken chunks 
Avant - cultivated fish maw bites - credit Avant
Courtesy of Lever VC
  • New Singularity: Lever China Fund led the seed round for this Tianjin plant-based seafood company using novel manufacturing technology to produce plant-based shrimp, tuna, eel and other seafood products 
  • LIKE Foods: Lever China Fund led the pre-seed round for this Beijing-based cultivated meat start-up using tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting technologies to create sustainable and healthy animal protein 
  • Avant Meats: Lever China Fund participated in the Seed round for China’s first cultivated meat company, producing fish meat and whole marine proteins for the food, supplements and beauty sectors 

China is the world’s largest consumer market for protein, both by volume and value, and will account for 35% of the global protein market in 2025. China’s plant-based dairy sector has reached 120 billion RMB in annual sales and the plant-based meat sector has been growing 14% per year. 

Lever China Fund states that it will invest 40 million RMB over the next four years in entrepreneurs and early stage alternative protein companies focused on the burgeoning mainland China market. Up to 160 million RMB is available in potential follow-on funding from the Lever VC Fund, for a total available investment pool of 200 million RMB.

Hero Protein-beef meatball soup
Courtesy of Lever VC
“We are very excited to see the accelerating growth of alternative protein in China, with industry giants like Starbucks, KFC, Cargill and Nestle adding plant-based meat and dairy products in recent months,” said Lily Chen, Program Manager of Lever Foods. “In addition to the capital the Fund provides, Lever Foods leverages our broad network of contacts in the food and investment sectors to provide our portfolio companies with hands-on support in areas like R&D, fundraising, supply chain, distribution channels and strategic guidance.”
 

On Thursday, October 8 at 9 pm China Standard Time (1 pm GMT/ 9 am EST), Lever China Fund will host an English-language Zoom webinar to brief international investors on opportunities in China’s alternative protein sector, with short presentations from several alternative protein startups. To register, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pc–vrTotHtSNmaeKs6Jz8qkcwvHaEPV2