Investments & Finance

2024 Predictions: Investing in Food System Transformation is Here

Here, Elysabeth Alfano and Dr. Sasha Goodman of VegTech Invest give their predictions for 2024. “I do believe that plant-based and alternative proteins are in the right place at the right time! 2023 was such an odd year, but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, at least as it pertains to investing in food systems transformation,” says Elysabeth.

Predictions from VegTech Invest Chief Investment Officer, Dr. Sasha Goodman

  1. Continued Surge in Health-Conscious Consumer Spending in Plant-based Foods: The Plant-based Innovation sector is poised for substantial revenue growth in 2024, fueled by an expanding health-conscious consumer base. This trend, as seen in companies like Dole plc with a 42.9% sales increase and Vita Coco and Ingredion Incorporated’s strong earnings, reflects a broader shift towards healthier, sustainable food choices. Whole Foods Market’s ninth annual trend report highlights this movement, emphasizing a return to basic, less processed plant-based ingredients driven by consumer demand. More info: Whole Foods Market Top 10 Food Trends for 2024
  2. Expansion of the Plant-Based Protein Segment: The protein sector, especially in bars and protein powders, is projected to maintain its impressive growth trajectory in 2024, with a 39% three-year dollar sales growth rate according to The Good Food Institute (GFI). The rise is driven by innovation and diversification in protein sources by companies like AB InBev’s EverGrain, SunOpta, and Ingredion Incorporated, signaling robust demand in consumer and B2B markets. More info: GFI 2022 State of the Industry Report
  3. Advancements in Technology Will Expand Price Parity: Price is second only to taste as a driver of consumer purchasing. Technological innovation and scaling in plant-based and alternative protein products are critical drivers for sector growth in 2024. The move towards price parity, as seen in the Netherlands with plant-based products becoming more affordable than meat, is expected to pick up in the U.S. and other regions, and boost consumer adoption and market expansion significantly. More info: Food Navigator on Plant-based Price ParityGFI on Price Parity
  4. Growth Potential in Publicly Traded Small- and Mid-Cap Companies: The Plant-based Innovation sector’s publicly traded small- and mid-cap companies are likely to experience rapid growth in 2024. With the eventual easing of macroeconomic pressures and a decrease in interest rates, these companies may surge at a higher rate than the large companies in the market. More info: Morningstar reports that reduction in interest rates could turn the tide for smaller companies in general
  5. Rising Popularity of Plant-based Seafood: Plant-based seafood, a sector that has been gaining momentum, is expected to see significant growth in 2024. Factors like the depletion of natural ocean resources, ocean acidification, and global food supply chain pressures contribute to this trend. Whole Foods Market predicts that 2024 will bring innovative and gourmet plant-based seafood products, such as plant-based tinned fish, further energizing the category. More info: Whole Foods Market Top 10 Food Trends for 2024
A plant-based tender pork sandwich on a plate
© Tender Food

Predictions from VegTech Invest CEO, Elysabeth Alfano

  1. Acceptance. 2024 will see the acceptance from governments, private capital, and industry leaders that Food System Transformation through protein diversification is a significant way to address business and natural inefficiencies, food insecurity, Climate Change, and financial risk currently borne by governments, companies, and consumers. Below is a chart from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) illustrating that investing in Plant-based Innovation is three times (3x) to forty times (40x) more impactful at reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GhGE) than investing in other green technologies such as alternative building materials, alternative energy, and alternative transportation.
  2. Financing Food Fast. Sustainable Food System Transformation based on Plant-based Innovation of diversified proteins through plants, fermentation, and cell cultivation becomes a large-scale financial opportunity. Investing in the infrastructure, the picks and shovels of the supply chain, remains critical to the growth of the sector.
  3. Blended finance. Blended finance will be the financial buzz phrase of 2024. It combines government, philanthropic, Wall Street, and private capital to drive innovation and R&D and includes de-risking systems with off-take options to ensure that entrepreneurs, companies, and farmers won’t lose out in moving to a new food system.
  4. Bounce Back Better. Even though the election will keep things volatile for another three fiscal quarters, the public markets will bounce back before private venture markets do. Thus, public market capital and government capital will be funding food systems in innovation until venture capital catches up.
  5. Race to zero. As the only sector that can reach Net Zero by 2030 according to Mahesh Roy of Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) investor network, Food System Transformation through diversified proteins becomes a priority for companies trying to meet sustainability goals. Even smaller initiatives, such as shifting cafeterias to be two-thirds plant-based as was the case at COP28, allow companies to say they are on the way to meeting 2030 goals without large spending to do so.

For more information on impact investing through the public markets in the sustainable food systems transformation, visit VegTechInvest.com.

Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech™ Invest, which created the EATV ETF and the EATVi Index.  She is also an advisor to CEOs and C-suite executives in the food space and the host of the Plantbased Business Hour and Upside & Impact: Investing for Change, distributed by the New York Stock Exchange.


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