The Good Food Institute (GFI) has released a new analysis showing that, despite challenging macroeconomic and market conditions, investment interest in the alternative proteins sector remains strong, with 99% of investors surveyed showing optimism for its long-term potential.
“Continued growth of the plant-based category will be enabled by innovation that results in delicious and appealing options”
Observing the rapid growth of alt-protein investments in the past decade, which has doubled YOY and now totals about $14.2Bn globally, GFI noted the marked slowdown and deceleration of investments last year, which decreased from $5.1Bn in 2021 to $2.9Bn in 2022.
This trend aligned with a 35% decline in overall global venture funding that occurred over the same time period. Despite these slowdowns, GFI points out that the world’s largest protein producers are increasingly involved in the alt-protein industry: of the 60 largest global meat, dairy, and seafood companies tracked in the The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index, half are investing in the alternative protein market as of 2022, more than double the amount in 2019.
Other key findings in GFI’s analysis:
- Investments returned to pre-pandemic levels when capital nearly tripled between 2019 and 2020. Investment continued to surge in 2021 with record-breaking venture funding across most sectors.
- Even with this recalibration, 2022 investment still far surpasses the $1.1 billion raised in 2019, which is largely considered alternative proteins’ ‘breakout’ year.
- Investment deceleration could continue to impact the alternative protein industry in the coming years amid an uncertain market environment: a GFI-led survey of investors currently active in or entering alternative proteins showed that those who slowed their alternative protein investing in 2022 did so primarily due to broad market and economic conditions.
99% show optimism
Nonetheless, the same survey found that optimism for alt-protein’s potential remains high, especially for emerging fields like fermentation, cultivated dairy and alternative fats.
- 99% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am optimistic about the alternative protein industry over the long term.”
- 45% of respondents noted that their investments in alternative proteins did not slow down in 2022, while 87% expected to make investments in alt-protein companies or funds in 2023.
- Most respondents expect to increase investment in the more novel alternative protein categories, especially fermentation, cultivated dairy, and alternative fats.
- Respondents expect to increase investment in B2B/ingredients and equipment business models, a key need for the sector to scale.
According to GFI, the alt-protein industry is still in its early days and will continue to navigate a complex and challenging environment, but the future outlook appears promising.
“Continued growth of the plant-based category will be enabled by innovation that results in delicious and appealing options. As consumers increasingly seek out alternative proteins for personal health and environmental reasons, winners will be created in the category and generate strong returns for investors,” said Alice Raksin, Vice President at private equity firm L Catterton.
Sharyn Murray, GFI Investor Engagement Manager, states, “As companies continue to develop new technologies, as well as scale and optimize production to improve the taste and affordability of products, sales will accelerate and spur additional investment–particularly when macroeconomic and market conditions normalize.”