Investors are flocking to the food industry’s most impressive up-and-comers: plant-based meat, egg, and dairy businesses and cell-based meat companies. According to a new report from the Good Food Institute (GFI), investors have contributed a whopping $16 billion to these ventures just in the past 10 years, and $13 billion of that was in 2017 and 2018.

Plant-based industry growth

Since a fair share Americans are planning to increase their plant-based food intake this year and plant-based food sales are growing, it appears investors’ enthusiasm in the space is well placed.

GFI’s report cited several major acquisitions and investments that have taken place in the past two years:

White Wave Foods

  • Acquired by: Danone
  • Acquisition value: $12.5 billion
  • Products: Plant-based milk alternatives, yogurt alternatives, protein powder, and more

Impossible Foods

  • Investment round and value: $189 million late-stage VC funding, including $50 million in debt financing
  • Products: Plant-based meat alternatives

Ripple Foods

  • Investment round and value: $65 million Series C round
  • Products: Pea protein dairy alternative products, protein powder, and more

Beyond Meat

  • Investment round and value: $50 million Series H round
  • Products: Plant-based meat alternatives

Califia Farms

  • Investment round and value: $50 million private equity round
  • Products: Plant-based milk alternatives, yogurt alternatives, and more

In total, investors put $673 million towards plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies just in 2018. Although the massive White Wave Foods acquisition has gone unmatched, the sheer number of acquisitions and deals are on the upswing.  

  • 19 plant-based company acquisitions have taken place since 2009 — 10 took place in 2017 and 2018.
  • 46 capital investment deals closed 2018, a 39% increase over 2017.

Cell-based meat alternative industry growth

The cell-based meat alternative industry is experiencing impressive growth — and attracting investors to boot.

  • In 2018, 11 new cell-based meat companies were founded.
  • Since 2015, investors have contributed $73 million in capital to the cell-based meat industry.
  • In 2018, 12 cell-based meat companies raised $50 million in capital across 14 deals.

As of right now, the top three funded cell-based meat companies are:

Is this growth sustainable?

GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich says, “Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for alternatives to animal-based foods, and we have already seen fast-paced growth in this space across retail and foodservice markets.” But is this enormous growth sustainable?

It appears so. Friedrich adds, “There is still so much growth possible, and there are great opportunities that come with that. Investors and entrepreneurs recognize the vast market opportunity on offer to get involved while these industries take form.”

Plus, the existing data and projections suggest these major deals and acquisitions aren’t going to slow down any time soon. Plant-based meat alternative sales grew 23% from 2017 to 2018 — total U.S. retail food sales only grew 2%.

And as for cell-based meat alternatives? Interest is skyrocketing.

To read more about the growing popularity of plant and cell-based alternatives, check out these articles: