Eat Beyond Global says it is “directing the knowledge and experience of our management and investment teams addressing the problems of traditional food industries” through the alternative protein category.
Can you tell us about the motivation behind Eat Beyond Global?
We are focused on finding and investing in the next great companies creating innovative food products that are more sustainable and healthy. This includes plant-based foods and other innovations in dairy, eggs, meat and seafood.
What are you aiming for as a company and how do you hope to achieve it?
For so long, the food industry has been driven by artificial and unsustainable practices that do not match our public health and environmental goals. Now I think we are seeing a transition on a macro level to a more proactive, and perhaps enlightened culture. We are working to support the entrepreneurs that are finding ways to provide alternatives for people that are healthier and more sustainable. We have seen a similar transition taking place when you look at “big pharma” and the opioid crisis in North America and how it is being disrupted by the medicinal CBD/THC industry.
How do you assess the current market for the alternative protein industry?
The Good Food Institute showed that over $17 billion has been invested in the plant-based and alternative food industry to date. There are several factors driving this growth including increased awareness of the health benefits of these foods, new food innovation and awareness of the food industry’s impact on the environment – think factory farming.
Why is your platform an important contribution to the food industry?
The average investor has limited opportunity to participate in the growth of the fast-growing plant-based alternative food sector because many of the companies that are getting attention on the store shelves are privately held. This is where Eat Beyond Global comes in – our team of advisors and analysts vet and perform due diligence on each company so the retail investor can get involved in the growth with less of a risk factor.
Can you give us an idea of the scale of your platform?
We are a Global Fund that is open to any company that fits our criteria regardless of its country of origin. Each investment opportunity is different and is assessed on a case by case basis.
Why is now the time for your investment platform to be a success?
Demand for plant-based alternatives is high and growing, 32% of Americans consider themselves “flexitarians,” which means that they still eat meat but are opting for more meatless alternatives. The plant-based meat market is estimated at around $12.8 billion and is expected to grow to $27.9B by 2025. This is driven by many factors, beyond just animal welfare. This includes the attractive health, environmental, and food security benefits related to plant-based alternatives.
COVID-19 has also brought greater awareness to the main source of infectious diseases in humans, which is called Zoonosis, the transfer of disease from livestock and other animals to humans. Most of our common diseases are of animal origin, bird flu comes from domestic chickens and influenza originated in horses and pigs for example. Other diseases with similar origins include chicken pox, swine flu, tuberculosis and now COVID-19 which originated from bats.
This is a trend that is likely to become increasingly devastating to public health, and the answer is really to reduce our dependence on animal products.
What is your current portfolio?
While I cannot share specifics just yet – we look at companies on a case-by-case basis. We target companies ranging from run rates of $20m to $200m. Some of the companies we are looking at are at present more R&D-focused at present, such as companies developing growth media and cultured meat in the cellular agriculture industry.
How do you see your platform shaping the future of the plant-based industry?
Eat Beyond Global is positioned as a key partner for future portfolio brands because of our strict focus on the industry, as well as our team. We have put together a team of industry veterans to help us evaluate the potential of the companies we speak to. This includes:
- Lloyd Lockhart: Co-founder of Choices Market with 46 years of grocery retail experience.
- Diane Jang: A consumer packaged goods industry veteran with 29 years of experience with companies such as Sunrise Soya Foods, Earth’s Own Food Co Inc., Hempco Food and Fiber Inc.
- Alan Linder: Food distribution expert with over 30 years of experience managing food distribution across both North America and Asia, including 25 years with United Natural Foods Inc.
One of the key categories in your primary focus of investments is with cellular agriculture. Please tell us how this fits into your scope.
Cell agriculture is an area that is more in the R & D stages. We like this area because at some point in the next few years it will likely be the most disruptive category in the food industry. The race is on now to find the most cost-effective process and several companies we are talking to are getting close.
What are the most exciting developments that you are witnessing?
We are looking at all categories but initially focussing on alternatives to egg, meat, dairy, seafood including plant-based protein, fermented food, cultured agriculture, food tech and cell agriculture. There are many new exciting companies. Cellular agriculture and growth media, the growth media is what cell agriculture takes place in is definitely a fascinating area. With cell agriculture a chicken breast can be produced from just a single cell, no live animal is required.
Another standout area is innovative uses of traditional plant-based ingredients to create new products, for example, the creation of egg alternatives using mung beans.
What do you think the future of our food industry will look like?
Well, I am hoping that the food industry will not only help to advance human health overall, but it will improve our environmental inefficiencies, help protect our planet from climate change, and improve animal welfare. It will take time, but if we all do our part I think we can make it happen.