Investments & Acquisitions

Pandemic Sees Alt Protein Investments Soar to $4.8Bn in 2021, Impossible Foods in the Lead

The newly released AgFunder 2022 Agrifoodtech Investment Report reveals that the Innovative Food category, encompassing alt protein companies across plant-based, cell-cultured, fermentation and functional ingredients, raised $4.8 billion last year with a 102% YOY growth, representing 9.3% of all Agri Food Tech.

The report states that much of this growth is due to the effects of Covid 19, which as our readers are aware, has highlighted myriad issues around health and environment, leading to a surge of interest globally in alternatives to animal based products.

Here are some of the global effects of the pandemic on our industry:

  • USA: Americans have begun to discover vegetables for the first time, with one in five (22%) trying certain veg for the first time ever, especially leafy greens like kale and spinach. Since the start of the pandemic, 19% tried broccoli and 17% tried cauliflower for the first time.
  • Australia: plant-based eating has increased by 27% since the pandemic began, with the industry now valued at $7 billion. 
  • Russia: city-based consumers began to consume meat and milk alternatives three times more often since the start of the global crisis, with alt meat category increasing from 10% to 34% and alt milk category rising from 9% to 31%
  • Dubai: surge of interest in plant-based: Bareburger Restaurant said: “The COVID-19 crisis is pretty much associated with the consumption of animal meat and has created ‘virus-phobia’ […] We believe that is (now) the main reason that consumers are increasing their plant-based food consumption.”
  • Online sales of vegan supplements surged, with market value now estimated at over US$ 17 billion.
  • Meat alternatives skyrocketing worldwide, for example in the UK, Meatless Farm raised £31 million towards the beginning of the pandemic to help support its covid-related growth.
Meatless Farm ad
©Meatless Farm

Biggest deals in 2021

The Agfunder report lists over 430 companies in the Innovative Food category raising funds in 2021. Impossible Foods closed the biggest deal with its huge $500M round last November, creating a total of $2 billion raised since its launch 2011 and making Impossible the fastest-growing plant-based meat company in retail.

Other noteable raises as listed in the report as the largest rounds in 2021 were:


In 2020, when the pandemic was beginning to take hold, we spoke with various leaders in the plant-based movement to hear their views and predictions on the market and how it was likely to be affected. Veronica Fil, economist, food industry specialist and founder of Grounded foods, stated to vegconomist at the time:

“The alternative proteins industry was already a hot market before covid-19 hit. My prediction is that these terrifying times will propel the sector’s growth even faster. As borders are locked down, it’s imperative to explore resilient, self-sustaining and local food supply chains. And for the plant-based startups who are on the forefront of innovation? Don’t let a turbulent economy hold you back. Now is the time that we need you most.”

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