Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

2023 GFI Reports: Cultivated Meat and Fermentation Industries Growing Despite Drop in Investments

The Good Food Institute has released the 2023 State of the Industry Reports for the alt protein industry.

These annual reports provide a global analysis of each sector’s commercial landscape, investments, scientific progress, and government and regulatory developments.

The following are the top highlights in cultivated meat and fermentation for 2023, providing an overview of the key developments in these industries. The complete reports can be found here.

Cultivated Meat

Investments

  • Cultivated meat and seafood companies raised $225.9 million globally in 2023, bringing the total (since 2013) to $3.1 billion. 
  • $225.9 million is a fraction of the investments in technologies to reduce emissions and address climate goals like renewable energy. 
  • However, investments in the sector were significantly lower than the $922.3 million capital injection of 2022. “This mirrors the broader tepid private funding environment,” the report states.
  • 111 investors, compared to 204 in 2022, invested last year in cell-based meat and sea seafood companies or startups.
  • Meatable‘s $35 million Series B round was the 2023 most significant funding round.
GFI Industry Report 2023
© GFI

On the market

  • 2023 was an important year for the commercial landscape of cultivated meat. Two cultivated products, UPSIDE Foods’ and GOOD Meat’s chicken, were approved for sale in the United States, one of the world’s largest markets.
  • Additionally, Israeli regulators gave Aleph Farms the green light to sell its cultivated beef steaks, becoming the third country in the world to advance cultivated meat and the first to approve of cultivated beef.
  • Regarding consumers, general data shows that consumers are unaware of cultivated meat and seafood, suggesting that companies should invest in putting the topic up-front.

The environment

  • The number of publicly announced cultivated meat companies focused on end-product manufacturing or inputs rose to 174 in 2023, up from 166 in 2022. 
  • From this number, at least 50 companies work on bioprocess design, cell line development, and cell culture media as focus areas.
  • Interestingly, 2023 was a year of “infrastructure momentum,” with ten new cultivated meat facilities opened across Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East, and at least seven other facilities were announced.
Mosa Meat cultivated burger
© Mosa Meat
  • The Dutch company Mosa Meat and the Chinese startup CellX opened large-scale facilities for cultivated meat in 2023. 
  • Big food giants, including JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Nestlé, and Danone, entered the cultivated meat industry through investments, acquisitions, partnerships, and/or research, development, and manufacturing.
  • Regarding science and technology, numerous studies show the potential to reduce production costs and reach scalability. Improvements in cell culture media and scaffolding promise products that look and taste like meat or fish.

Government action

  • For the first time, the COP28 climate conference in Dubai spotlighted food system transformation as a significant climate solution.
  • China, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and more supported the creation of new cultivated meat infrastructure and market development.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report on the benefits of alternative proteins, including cultivated meat.
  • The UK announced significant funding for cultivated meat projects in 2023: £12 million for a research hub at the University of Bath and an additional £3.4 million for seven research projects focused on cultivated meat.

The authors state, “Global meat consumption is projected to rise significantly by 2050, and animal agriculture alone accounts for between 11 and 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together, these projections point to the urgent need for the kinds of solutions provided by alternative proteins.”

Animal-free liquid eggs in a bowl
Image courtesy of The EVERY Co.

Fermentation

Investments

  • Fermentation derived meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy companies raised $515 million globally in 2023, bringing the total (since 2013) to $4.1 billion. From this total, 72% of fermentation investment capital occurred in the last three years alone.
  • Investment dropped 32% from 2022, mirroring the global investment scenario, but the number of all-time unique investors increased by 22%.

On the market

  • Alt dairy products made with fermentation ingredients have experienced a market expansion: Nature’s Fynd launched a fungi-based yogurt.
Fermentation investments by country
© GFI
  • Solar Foods’s air protein, Solein, was launched in a chocolate ice cream in Singapore, marking the first time such a protein has been available for consumers.
  • Shanghai-based Changing Bio debuted the company’s first line of microbial-based dairy products, including whipped cream and grated parmesan.
  • Other notable developments include the first precision fermentation-derived liquid eggs by The Every Co.
  • According to the report, numerous studies show consumers are strongly interested in trying fermentation-based products, particularly when they know the technology has environmental benefits.

The environment

  • Despite a decrease in investments, the sector is growing. In 2023, the fermentation industry saw a 16% in the number of companies, reaching 158. 
  • Seven new fermentation facilities have been launched on the infrastructure front, with Liberation Labs and Meati Foods’ Mega Ranch gaining much attention.
meati-steak-new-president
© Meati Foods
  • Other key milestones for the sector included granting dozens of patents and filing several GRAS notices, signaling confidence in the biotech sector.
  • Various food giants, including FrieslandCampina IngredientsDanone Manifesto Ventures, Danone’s corporate venture arm, Thai Union, Colombia’s largest CPG food company, Grupo Nutresa, and Cargill, got involved with the fermentation industry.
  • Two new industry associations —  Precision Fermentation Alliance and Food Fermentation Europe — launched in 2023 to propel the industry and collaborate.

Government action

  • In 2023, the US, EU, and China promoted biotech initiatives that included specific actions for precision and biomass fermentation.
  • GFI estimates that DARPA has allocated approximately $40 million over four years for fermentation research, nearly matching the United States’ previous investment in alternative proteins.
  • The government of South Africa granted De Novo FoodLabs a $700,000 grant, marking what could be the first public investment in precision fermentation on the continent.

The report states: “At scale, alternative proteins made via fermentation could enable a shift toward less resource-intensive ways of producing protein. But first, the industry must overcome hurdles such as increasing manufacturing capacity and reaching cost parity to satisfy the next generation of consumers, who are signaling enthusiasm for fermentation as a solution to eating protein made with fewer resources and less harm to the environment.”




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